Patriots vs. Jets: 6 Bold Predictions

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Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

2. Leonard Hankerson will break out

Speaking of newly acquired receivers, the Patriots will enjoy a big day out of Hankerson. The Patriots were fortunate to come across Hankerson via waivers last week, stealing him away from the Atlanta Falcons. Before encountering a rash of hamstring issues in mid-November, Hankerson had emerged as a dependable wideout for the Falcons, catching 26 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns.

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Hankerson will make the Falcons wish they hadn’t cut ties with him by accumulating 120 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions in Week 16. Again, the threat of a Jackson/Iosefa ground game will in turn benefit the aerial attack, and there just aren’t that many other wide receivers for Brady to throw to besides Hankerson; the smart money is on Julian Edelman and Amendola both missing this game.

The remaining two weeks of the regular season will act as a try-out for Hankerson, not just for playing time in the playoffs but also next season. Strong performances against the Jets this week and the Dolphins in the season finale will set Hankerson up for a trusted role in the playoffs, and from there he can prove his long-term worth in the Patriots’ offense.

UPDATE: Now that Hankerson has been waived by the Pats, this prediction is no longer valid.

Next: 1. Pats will harass Fitz, pitch 2nd half shutout