New England Patriots: 6 bold predictions for 2015

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Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

4. Malcolm Butler will lead the AFC with 6 interceptions

The Patriots don’t usually have a cornerback that racks up interceptions. Aqib Talib was probably the last ball-hawk they had, as Darrelle Revis was too good to get many chances at intercepting passes. Quarterbacks just didn’t throw his way very often.

While respected because of his heroic play in Super Bowl XLIX, Butler will be tested early and often this season; after all, he is only a second-year player. That means he’ll get plenty of targets, enough for the West Alabama product to have no shortage of chances to get two hands on the ball (or even just one, like he did in the big game).

My train of thought here is that Butler is playing with extreme confidence. All preseason, he’s been flying around the field, deflecting passes and dishing out hits and talking smack. A cornerback that is confident is a cornerback that is good, and one that is willing to take risks to intercept balls.

Keep in mind that the most interceptions an AFC defender had last season was the Browns’ Tashaun Gipson with six. The point being, Butler is within striking distance of really exploding onto the scene as one of the league’s best cornerbacks. And I think he’ll do it.

One more bold prediction for Butler: two of those six interceptions will be pick-sixes. (Admittedly, there is no hard data on which to assert this, but call it a hunch considering how many picks Butler will have.)

Next: 3. Danny Amendola will lead Pats WRs in TDs