After a shaky offseason, the expectations seemed to be lower for the team, but their 5-4 record at the bye should have some second guessing. Mac Jones was picked as a breakout candidate by some in the national media heading into the 2022 season, but some of the roster moves by the Patriots left some counting them out in the deep AFC.
Now nine weeks into the 2022 season, and it seems that some of those who counted New England out could be in the wrong. After a convincing win on Sunday, the team improves their record to 5-4.
Starting 1-3, New England has won four out of its last five games. Bill Belichick appears to have his squad trending in the right direction. I think most will agree that for a couple reasons, the team likely isn’t making a deep playoff run or winning the Super Bowl.
Their offense and quarterback situation are not dynamic enough, but they seem to do just enough most weeks to keep the team in the game. The defense is truly elite and is one of the very best in the NFL. However, they are in a good spot in the AFC playoff picture.
Right now they sit at the 8th seed, just barely on the outside looking in. The seventh and final Wild Card spot is held by the Los Angeles Chargers, who are 5-3. Given that the Patriots usually have a head coaching and defensive advantage every week, they should remain in most games after the bye.
The bye week also game at a great time. Perhaps players like David Andrews and Marcus Cannon can get healthy and return to the lineup, which would be a huge boost. Their second half schedule includes two games against the Buffalo Bills and their last game against the Dolphins, so the team will be tested.
However, games that seemed harder before the season, like matchups against the Cardinals and Raiders do not seem as bad now. Perhaps New England can scrap together nine wins and put themselves in contention until the very last minute.
Finishing with a winning record in 2022 would also give them a great stepping stone for 2023 and could leave them in a good spot to make a significant quarterback move if one presented itself.