When Julian Edelman took the field for the New England Patriots last Saturday in their divisional round matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, it had been exactly 62 days since he had played in an NFL game — 62 days since he broke his foot in Week 10. However, that delay didn’t seem to slow him down one bit, as he picked up 111 all-purpose yards from 10 catches and one carry on an end-around. Any online sportsbook will have to keep their eye on Edelman, especially because he will be on the field in the next game.
What the league (and hopefully you as the bettor) learned is that Edelman is the player who determines whether the Patriots have a functional offense. Yes, the ball goes through Brady, and his efficient passing is like that of no other player in the league right now. Rob Gronkowski is the unearthly tight end that no other team can cover. However, Edelman is the one who can do anything at all, whenever he wants, and the entire Patriot offense responds when he is on the field.
Julian Edelman by the numbers
Let’s take a look at how Edelman’s departure from the lineup changed the Patriot offense, back in Week 9.
Before he was injured, the Patriots were #2 in yards from scrimmage per game (431) and yards in receiving per game (338). Afterward, they fell to #25 in yards from scrimmage (334) and #17 in receiving yards (253).
Before, Tom Brady was #4 in the NFL with a 67.8 completion percentage, and #1 in the NFL with a passer rating of 111.1. Afterward, he fell to #25 (59.1% completions) and #17 (88.8).
Before, the Patriots were #1 in the NFL at converting third downs (48.7%) and #2 in passing percentage on first down (39.7%). After, they were #25 with third downs (32%) and #24 on first down passing percentage (32%).
Edelman is just the latest in a tradition of undersized slot receivers who catch everything that comes in their direction during the Tom Brady era in New England. Whether it was Deion Branch, Wes Welker, or Troy Brown — or Julian Edelman — the Patriots have always had someone to fill that role on the offense. Without Edelman, the offense stagnated, and the Patriots lost the #1 seed in the AFC — and almost lost the bye.
How healthy is Edelman? It’s hard to tell. When he was at Kent State, he tore his PCL in a game and was out there in practice the next day going full speed. It’s hard to tell how much pain he has in his foot now — and it might not matter. There aren’t many players who could come back onto the field with a torn knee ligament and not have any dropoff in performance.
What we do know is that with Edelman back on the field, the offense is back in business — which could mean big trouble for the Denver Broncos and whoever the Patriots see if they make it to Super Bowl 50.