Now that the surprising free agency season is over and the draft is behind us, and things have started to settle down, it’s time to engage in the age old tradition of guessing what teams’ final records will be. Today I am going to examine this year’s Patriots’ games and my thoughts on their final record, as well as position in the division.
Last year, the Patriots came within a game of the Superbowl, despite near total turnover in the receiver corps and injuries that gutted the defense. (and Gronkowski finishing the season on IR again)
While the only big moves this year were in the secondary (though what moves they were! Adding Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis!), more familiarity with existing receivers such as Dobson and Thompkins, and the return of key cogs on defense such as Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo should bring about a significant upgrade.
Still, at only one game from the Superbowl, there isn’t much room to go up. Will this be there year that Brady and Bill get their fourth ring? Let’s take a look …
Sep 7: @ Dolphins Chance of winning 60% Predicted record 1-0
Call me a nervous Nelly, but playing division opponents on the road in opening week always make me uneasy. They know the Patriots well, and early in the season the Pats sometimes still have issues to work out. Like the Bills hanging in far longer than they should have for the 2013 season opener, I expect this one to be closer than it really should be. A motivated Dolphins team beat the Pats in Miami late last season, I expect them to try to build off that, though ultimately fall short.
Sep 14th @ Vikings Chance of winning 70% Predicted record 2-0
It looks like our old friend Matt Cassel will get the starting nod over Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder. And while I have great respect for Cassel from 2008 when he capably shepherded the Patriots to an 11-5 record in Tom Brady’s absence, (has it been that long already? Wow!) and with all due respect to Adrian Peterson, I don’t think they will be able to pull this one out. That has less to do with their offense versus the (hopefully) rejuvenated Patriots D, but instead with their 32nd ranked defense from last year not being able to contain the Pats O, which hopefully will still have a full complement of weapons at this point. (I.E. Gronk, Vereen, Amendola, Ridley not yet benched for fumbling)
Sep 21st: Raiders Chance of winning 100% Predicted record 3-0
The Pats don’t lose home openers. And not to a Raiders team that is coming all the way across country to the Eastern Time zone. Period.
Sep 29th: @ Chiefs Chance of winning 40% Predicted record 3-1
Yeah, this is a bit pessimistic. But Arrowhead stadium is a tough place to play, this will be the 3rd road game in 4 games, and Andy Reid has them playing pretty well. Maybe not elite level yet, but after a full year to work with them, I expect the Chiefs to be even tougher this year. It wouldn’t shock me if the Patriots won, (truthfully, there is not a game that would SHOCK me if they won) but I think Kanas City pulls out a close one here. Just a feeling. Let’s hope I am wrong.
Oct 5th: Bengals Chance of winning 60% Predicted record 4-1
The Bengals took one from us last year in a grinding, low scoring affair decided in a virtual monsoon. But that was in Cincy. This year, in Foxboro, I think we take one back in another hard fought affair.
Oct 12th: @Bills Chance of winning 75% Predicted record 5-1
Again, I don’t like division opponents on the road, but by week 6 Belichick usually has the small things under control and the results are more predictable. I think we’ve got this one.
Oct 16th: Jets Chance of winning 70% Predicted record 6-1
Week 7 sees the Patriots kicking off a 3 game home stand against the hated Jets. I actually have a suspicion that the Jets won’t be a bad this year as people think. Vick isn’t his old self, but he is still an upgrade, and Rex seems to somehow keep them in the hunt each year. I still think this will be a win, but it may be tougher than it should be.
Oct 26th: Bears Chance of winning 80% Predicted record 7-1
I actually think the Bears will be better this year than last, and not too bad. But Jay Cutler throwing long downfield against Revis and Brandon Browner? Enough said …
Nov 2nd: Broncos Chance of winning 60% Predicted record 8-1
At the end of a 3 game home stand, heading into the bye, this one is tough to predict. I doubt they will overlook the Broncos, and playing at home is helpful, but last year took a miraculous comeback and a giveaway in overtime for us to win in the regular season. And everyone is aware what happened in the post season. Still, with an improved (and hopefully still healthy) secondary, and avoiding the disastrous start we had last year, I think the Pats pull out a hard fought win and take a 8-1 record into a well-earned bye.
Nov 16th: @ Colts Chance of winning 40% Predicted record 8-2
I know what you are thinking. Belichick doesn’t lose when he has two weeks to prepare. But I think the letdown after playing the Broncos, the first away game in over a month, and playing the Colts at home in their nice snug dome all conspire against us. Plus I hear that Luck kid isn’t too bad either …
Nov 23rd: Lions Chance of winning 70% Predicted record 9-2
Shaking off the loss with their return to Foxboro, I think the Pats secondary will keep Mathew Stafford and the high flying Lions offense (6th in yards in 2013) in check, while Brady and Co. will handle the average Lions D.
Nov 30th: @ Packers Chance of winning 50% Predicted record 9-3
This one is a tossup. The late November chill in Green Bay won’t slow the Patriots down, but Aaron Rogers and the Pack are no pushover at home. My coin flip came up tails, and I am going to say we get edged out in this one.
Dec 7th: @ ChargersChance of winning 55% Predicted record 10-3
Another tough call. 2nd away game in a row, and both are long flights. But this is a Nationally televised game, and I trust Brady in the spotlight more than Rivers.
Dec 14th: @ Dolphins Chance of winning 70% Predicted record 11-3
The Dolphins spoiled a late season chance for the Pats to move into the number one seed for the AFC last year. But this year, in the chill of Foxboro, I think the Pats give me a birthday present and deliver a win.
Dec 21st: @ Jets Chance of winning 45% Predicted record 11-4
The Jets seem to have a talent for pulling out improbable victories again New England, despite a vastly worse record, especially when playing in the Meadowlands. The pessimist in me says this year will be no different. Plus, I think there is still a chance the Jets are still hanging around the periphery of the playoff chase at this time, and they will be desperate.
Dec 28th: Bills Chance of winning 90% Predicted record 12-4
The Pats will be playing at home, probably for seeding, and angry if they dropped a game to the Jets. The Bills will be just playing one last game before cleaning out their lockers. You do the math.
There you have it. My best guess is 12-4, and probably number 2 seed in the AFC again. What is your prediction?