One of the big blows to an NFL team heading into the 2018 season will be the New England Patriots being without wide receiver Julian Edelman for the first four games of the campaign. Suspended for a performance enhancing drug policy violation, Edelman will cost his team one of quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite targets, which will impact the squad in a big way for the first quarter of the year.
Edelman is someone who can work extremely well in tight spaces, with his ability to get open over the middle of the field something that the Patriots have needed in a big way. And without a deep threat like the Patriots had in Brandin Cooks last season, the team could use Edelman’s ability to get separation more than ever. In addition to the on-field impact the loss will have, there could be an impact on bettors looking to cash in on the situation.
Public perception will be that the loss of Edelman is a big deal for the Patriots, and that the team will struggle more than they would with him both straight up and against the spread. But if performances in recent seasons are to be believed, there may not be as big a drop off as some think with one of the team’s best receivers off the field.
Straight up, the Patriots have gone 17-6 without Edelman during games where he has been unavailable dating back to the 2015 season. He missed the final seven games of the regular season in 2015 after suffering an injury against the New York Giants, with the team going 4-3 in those games before he came back to help them make a run to the Super Bowl. And when he was out for all of 2017 with a knee injury, the team went 13-3 before breezing through the AFC en route to another Super Bowl appearance.
Against the spread, the Patriots haven’t been bad without Edelman either. In the 2017 season, the team went 11-5 against the spread, a mark that was good for the second-best record against the spread in the league behind just the Minnesota Vikings. Most of those losses against the spread for the Patriots came early in the season, when the team was still trying to figure out how to make their defense work. That period of time saw them give up big point totals to the Chiefs and Panthers most notably, something that Edelman wouldn’t have been able to do much to help.
There is no doubt that Julian Edelman is a great wide receiver when healthy and on the field, but his impact isn’t one that makes the difference between winning and losing against the spread. His impacts can, however, swing Super Bowls, as evidenced by his miracle catch against the Falcons. Given the choice between those two options, Edelman would be fine with where he is, but bettors shouldn’t worry too much about the Patriots during his four-game absence. As long as the defense shows up early in the year, it will be business as usual for New England.