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

Mayock: If I'm Cleveland, I'd be 'stoked' to land Garoppolo for No. 12 pick

Mayock: If I'm Cleveland, I'd be 'stoked' to land Garoppolo for No. 12 pick

NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock quarterbacked a marathon conference call with reporters from around the country on Monday in order to shed some light on the prospects who will compete at the combine later this week. One thing that stood out? He's not ready to crown anyone in this year's crop of draftable signal-callers.

As a result of the dearth of pro-ready talent at quarterback, Mayock recognized Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo as perhaps the top target for any quarterback-needy team. Garoppolo might interest the Cleveland Browns in particular, Mayock noted, because of the number of picks they have near the top of the draft.

"In my opinion," Mayock said, "if I'm the Cleveland Browns and I've got No. 1 and No. 12, if I came away with either [defensive end Myles] Garrett or [defensive tackle] Jonathan Allen at No. 1, and gave up the 12th pick in the draft to get Garoppolo? I would be stoked.

"I would feel like I had a difference-maker on defense and we had a quarterback on offense. Now let's get to work. We got five in the first 65 picks. Let's get to work. From my perspective, especially looking at the quarterbacks this year, if they gave up No. 12 and could get Garoppolo, I'd be all over that."

Patriots promote coaching assistant Nick Caley to tight ends coach

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Patriots promote coaching assistant Nick Caley to tight ends coach

As the Patriots so often like to do, they promoted from within to fill an open coaching position on Monday. 

The team announced that they've named Nick Caley as their tight ends coach, filling the vacancy left behind when Brian Daboll accepted the offensive coordinator position at the University of Alabama last week. 

Caley was a coaching assistant with the Patriots for the past two seasons after spending a decade in the college ranks at John Carroll (2005-06), Akron (2006-07), Auburn (2008), Iowa State (2009-11), Eastern Illinois (2012), Arkansas (2013) and Florida Atlantic (2014).

Caley is one of several John Carroll products -- including director of player personnel Nick Caserio, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Shuplinski -- working for the Patriots at the moment. He graduated from the Jesuit university situated just outside of Cleveland in 2006.