Feeling like a trap?

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Feeling like a trap?

If you fancy yourself a betting man or woman, by now youre well aware that the Patriots are 14-point favorites in Sundays home opener against the Cardinals. In the same breath, youre also well aware that, by any measure of NFL gambling, this qualifies as an enormous spread.

In fact, according to Covers.com, the Pats have been favored by MORE than Sundays 14-point spread only three times since Super Bowl XLII:

1. In Week 1 of 2008, when they were 16-point favorites against Lucipher Pollard and the Chiefs. Final Score: Pats 17, Chiefs 10

2. In Week 7 of 2009, when they were 15.5-point favorites against the Buccaneers in London. Final Score: Pats 35, Bucs 7. (In the under card, Brandon Meriweather defeated the Big Bang Clock by a split decision.)

3. And finally, in Week 13 of last season, when they were 20.5-point favorites over the Suck for Luck Colts. Final Score: Pats 31, Colts 24.

Anyway, like I was saying. Its a big spread on Sunday, and much like they did on the aforementioned three occasions, the Pats will probably win. They should win. But theres one little twist on this Cardinals game that deserves at least a few minutes of our attention

Its a classic trap.

Just to refresh, there are two defining characteristic of a trap game.

1. Its a game against a team that you should most definitely beat. Where youre heavily favored. Or just enough to let your guard down.

Arizona at New England (-14): Check!

2. Its a game thats scheduled the week before a wildly important game against a bona fide rival. Where theres every reason for the favored team to look beyond the task at hand.

Next week, the Pats are in Baltimore for an AFC Championship rematch, and what will likely be the biggest test and most telling game of the entire season: Check!

You can argue both sides of whether a game is more trappy when the favored team is on the road (where the underdog is more pumped and ready to play) or at home (where the favorite is a little more comfortable, relaxed and ripe for the picking), but either way, this Sunday qualifies as a trap game. Its the very definition.

So, heres my question: Why isnt anyone worried?

Answer: Because history has shown these Patriots to be essentially trap proof. In fact, by my count, the Pats have fallen victim to only one trap game in the last five years. And since I have the space and time, I might as well elaborate.

First of all, in 2007, the Pats didnt lose any trap games because they didnt lose any games. In a sense, I guess Super Bowl XLII qualifies as the trappiest game of all time, but that was a very different set of circumstances. We cant compare the Super Bowl to Week 2 against the Cardinals.

In 2008, the Pats didnt lose any trap games because when your quarterback is a former seventh round pick who hasnt started a game since high school, youre never quite comfortable enough to be trapped. And anyway, the Pats five losses that season came against the eventual division-winning Dolphins, at the Chargers, at the Colts, in overtime to the Jets and at home to the Steelers.

In 2009, with Tom Brady back in the pocket, the Pats lost six games: At the Jets, at the Broncos, at the Saints, at the Colts (You see a pattern here?), at the Dolphins and at the Texans.

Of the six, the only two that the Pats should have won were the Dolphins game which doesnt qualify as a trap because the 5-7 Panthers were up next and the Texans game which doesnt count because it was Week 17 and lets all go throw rocks at Bernard Pollards house.

Moving on, in 2010 the Pats only lost two games. The first one came in Week 2 at the then-mighty Jets not a trap. And the second one . . . well come back to that in a second.

And finally, last year, the Pats went 13-3. Loss No. 1 came against Buffalo in a game that could have qualified if not for a mere date with the lowly Raiders looming on the other side. Loss No. 2 came at Pittsburgh not a trap. Loss No. 3 came at home against the Giants, in a game that they should have won, with a huge date with the Jets on the horizon BUT . . . no way that counts as a trap. Regardless of anything else, there was way too much hype around the long awaited Super Bowl rematch. Trapless, I say!

That brings us back to present time.

But first a quick trip back to Week 7 of 2010.

The Pats are riding high off a huge Week 6 win over old friend Randy Moss and the Vikings. They have an enormous Week 8 date against the Steelers in the on-deck circle. But first, a pit stop in Cleveland to deliver a beat down on the Browns.

Or, the exact opposite.

Yeah, that loss to the Browns (how many TDs did Peyton Hillis have? 10? 12?) was as ugly as they come, and the very definition of a team falling face first into a trap.

But hey, one every five years isnt bad. And theres no reason to believe that the one trap for the next five years is in the cards on Sunday against the Cards.

Give me the Pats and the points.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

When will Bill Belichick retire? The Patriots coach is 64 years old, and he's been on record saying that he won't be coaching into his 70s like former Bills head coach Marv Levy. But it sure seems like Belichick has plenty of energy to stay at the job for some time, and the results, you may have noticed, have been pretty good. 

MORE FROM McDANIELS: 'Don't know' who'll play quarterback Sunday

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels joined WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning, and he was asked about how much longer his boss might work. Would McDaniels be surprised if Belichick coached into his 70s despite what he said on NFL Network's A Football Life documentary back in 2009?

"It wouldn't surprise me," McDaniels said. "I know Bill loves football. His drive and his passion for the game and to try to do everything we can to prepare our team to win each week, I haven't seen one change in it. It's a great privilege to coach for him. He certainly kind of sets the tone for us. I don't see any difference in that since when I first started here. I look forward to coaching for him for as long as he'll let me."

Some have speculated that McDaniels could be the next head coach of the Patriots whenever Belichick decides to hang up his whistle. The 40-year-old has been up for head coaching positions since he's returned for his second stint in New England, but he's still with the organization that gave him his first NFL job in 2001. 

McDaniels, who left to be the head coach of the Broncos in 2009 and 2010, was asked if he values the offensive coordinator job with the Patriots more than a head coaching opportunity that might not be the perfect fit.

"I love where I'm at," McDaniels said. "I've said before I think we all have aspirations to grow and get better and improve and potentially move up and what have you. Who knows? Maybe that day happens, maybe it doesn't. But I know this: I'm really thankful to have the opprtunity that I have to coach the players we have here and to work underneath Bill and Robert [Kraft] and the Kraft family. It's a privilege here. I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world. Just thankful that I have an opportunity to come here and do it each week."

McDaniels: Don't know who'll play QB for Patriots against Bills

McDaniels: Don't know who'll play QB for Patriots against Bills

The two quarterbacks on the Patriots roster are both dealing with injuries at the moment, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels says he's not sure which will be starting against the Bills on Sunday.

"I don't know that," he told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning. "I haven't seen them in a few days. Hopefully all those guys are continuing to get better. We'll see them tomorrow. Hopefully they're all ready to go. That would be the goal. That would be the hope . . . But as of right now I don't know that."

Garoppolo's shoulder injury, suffered against the Dolphins in Week 2, was significant enough to keep him out of Thursday night's win over the Texans. In his place, rookie third-rounder Jacoby Brissett got the start, but he injured his thumb during the game. He played through the injury, which Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran has reported is "minor."

Asked if receiver Julian Edelman would be the next in line if both of those players were unavailable, McDaniels explained that the Patriots may have used a variety of looks had they been in that kind of emergency situation.

"We have to have somebody ready to go," McDaniels said. "Julian's certainly been in that position before. There's always a couple other things you can do. There's a lot of schemes that are available to people if that situation were to ever come up , , , It might not have been one thing. It might've been multiple different things that we try at that point. We had more than one guy that was ready to go if that situation came up."

Bills coach Rex Ryan said on Sunday that he didn't care who was playing behind center for the Patriots, even if it was coach Bill Belichick. The Bills would be coming after him.

"I have a lot of respect for Rex," McDaniels said. "What he says is usually the truth. They'll blitz. They'll bring a lot of packages each week to try to disrupt the quarterback, whichever team he's playing . . . He always keeps you on your toes, makes it difficult."