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

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.