Caesars setting the Patriots' win total at 8.5—the lowest since 2003—is a thing you hate to see

Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots

Maddie Meyer

It's weird times out there. The streets are empty. The stores are shuttered. Roger Goodell will be calling NFL Draft picks from his mom's basement and the U.S. government is cutting you checks, not the other way around. But perhaps the most obvious sign that we are now officially residing in the Twilight Zone is in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where Caesars Spotsbook has smacked the now Tom Brady-less Patriots a pedestrian win total of 8.5 for the upcoming NFL season, their lowest since 2003. Yes this is real life. No we are not used to it yet.

We're not sure there's a football fan alive who's brave (read: dumb) enough to take that bet, and the lines at competing sportsbooks reflect that, with MGM, FanDuel and William Hill setting the Pats' 2020 win total at 9, and DraftKings going as high as 9.5. That said, a quarterback room of Jarret Stidham, Brian Hoyer and a choir of crickets doesn't exactly inspire confidence, and Caesars head odds maker Jeff Davis seems to placing his own bet on that, telling ESPN, "My raw number on the Patriots is less than eight [wins]. Outside of the secondary, which is one of the best in the league, the rest of their roster I think is one of the worst in the NFL."

Folks, you really hate to see it, and by hate we obviously mean love.

If you're reading the tea leaves, you've probably also realized that 8.5 wins is not going to be enough win even the AFC East next season. The Caesars lines back that up too, with the Buffalo Bills (who, let's be honest, SHOULD have won a playoff game last year) coming in as the narrow favorites at +100 and the Patriots following at +140. The less said about the Jets and Dolphins, the better.

Of course, as any self-respecting Patriots hater can tell you, the Pats are most lethal when you think they have them cornered. Maybe "Stid," as Belichick referred to him this week, proves to be diet Matthew Stafford. Maybe Belichick performs one of his ancient blood rituals on Cam Newton or Jameis Winston. Maybe, just maybe, they do a very un-Patriots thing and move up in the first round to swipe CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy to stretch the field alongside a potentially healthy N'Keal Harry.

But there's also the very real potential that, after two decades of waiting, this is the year the Patriots' juggernaut finally loses a step. Personally, we wouldn't bet on it, but like we said, it's weird times out there.