For the final month leading up to the regular season, I will be featuring two “Over/Under” pieces per week. I’ll take a Patriots or AFC East topic and give you my opinion of whether we will see more (over) or less (under) than the number provided.
The first topic in this 8-week series is Tom Brady’s passing yards. Everyone knows Brady has the ability to put up record-breaking numbers… But can he do it with an inexperienced receiving corps?
Tom Brady: Over or Under 4,500 passing yards
It’s tough to pick against Brady in stats… Brady has passed for over 4,500 yards in back-to-back seasons leading into 2013. But overall, he has only hit that mark 3 times in his 11 full seasons as a starter (which doesn’t include his 2008 knee-injury season).
The 2006 season is a decent reference, when the Patriots had lesser known wide receivers. Tom Brady passed for just over 3,500 yards. Obviously Brady has progressed in the years since then, but I still don’t see him throwing for as many yards as we have grown accustomed to seeing these last few seasons.
Brady’s passing attempts show the most clear correlation to his passing yards. In all 3 seasons where he surpassed 4,500 yards, Tom had over 575 attempts (roughly 36 per game). I don’t believe New England will have that many passes per game this season, especially considering the change at WR/TE.
Last season the offense revolved around the two tight ends. With Rob Gronkowski recovering from surgeries and Hernandez released, the Patriots will have a new-look offense. I anticipate them leaning on the rushing game, and using the depth at running back to open up the passing game.
Last season the Patriots ran the ball 523 times (45%), and they passed 641 times (55%). I could see a similar split percentage-wise this season, but I doubt they will have 1,164 total plays. I think there will be some early mistakes with the receivers, but it won’t take too long for Brady and co. to get on the same page. If Gronk is out for the first 6 weeks, then Brady’s numbers could dip even a little lower.
I predict Tom Brady will throw for 3,800 – 4,000 yards.