The days of the New England Patriots being considered among the NFL favorites year in and year out might be over, at least for the time being. Very early odds for Super Bowl LV in 2021 have been released, and the defending champions are not near the very top of the list. 

You’ve got to go past four teams before landing on New England with 14/1 odds to win next year’s title. The Patriots are third in the AFC behind the Kansas City Chiefs (6/1) and Baltimore Ravens (7/1). The San Francisco 49ers (8/1) and New Orleans Saints (11/1) are also given a better chance than New England to win the 55th Super Bowl.

In the immediate aftermath of Super Bowl LIII, which saw the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3, New England was named the favorites with +650 odds for the 2019 season. The Patriots were also favored following Super Bowl LII (13/2) and Super Bowl LI (13/2).

Tom Brady’s uncertain future has as much to do with New England’s odds as anything. The six-time champion will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, and there appears to be a real possibility that he might sign elsewhere.

Rumors have linked Brady to the Los Angeles Chargers. Other destinations could make sense, as well, potentially leaving the Patriots searching for a new signal caller.

New England likely isn’t good enough to compete for a title if they replace Brady with a worse quarterback. The Patriots had enough trouble moving the ball in the 2019 season with an underwhelming group of playmakers.

The Patriots ranked first in defense, though the unit wasn’t the same in the second half of the season. New England gave up 20.5 points per game over its final eight contests, culminating with a 27-24 Week 17 loss against the Miami Dolphins that cost the Patriots a first-round bye.

On the way to winning another AFC East championship, New England was 23rd in yards per play. The Patriots’ offensive struggles came back to bite them in the 2020 playoffs, suffering a 20-13 loss at home to the Tennessee Titans on Wild-Card Weekend.

It broke a streak of three straight Super Bowl appearances and eight consecutive trips to the AFC Championship Game for New England.