Using their Football Power Index, ESPN simulated the 2023 NFL season, and the New England Patriots did not finish how we'd like them to. In a crucial year for the organization, anything less than a playoff appearance is likely a massive failure. The hope is that a more efficient offense can help balance this team out and perhaps squeak into the postseason.
I think it's foolish to suggest that New England can win the AFC East. The division is just too talented this point, and the Patriots lack top-end talent on their roster. Well, ESPN doesn't seem to be too high on the Patriots for the 2023 NFL season. They simulated each game, and this is how they did it, according to Seth Walder:
"To forecast the 2023 NFL season, ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) simulates the season 20,000 times. That produces our projections, which are filled with probabilities, like the 14% chance the Eagles win the Super Bowl or the 43% chance the Lions win the NFC North."- Seth Walder
They simulated the season 20,000 times, apparently, so I don't think these projects will be that far off from what actually happens. They also gave record updates after four weeks and after 15 games. Let's see what they project for the Patriots. After four games, they are projecting the New England Patriots to be a solid 3-1, which would be tied for the best record in the AFC at this point in their simulation.
Every team in the AFC East but the Miami Dolphins have a 3-1 record through four games in this simulation. However, after most of the season has been simulated, the Patriots are in a much worse spot. After 15 games, ESPN projects the Patriots to be ay 7-8. Yuck. At this point, they are still mathematically in the playoffs, but they're still on shaky ground.
After the regular season, ESPN projects the Patriots to be 8-9 and finishing last in the AFC East. They project that the New York Jets win the division at 11-6, the Buffalo Bills come in second at 10-7, and the Miami Dolphins are third at 9-8. Both the Dolphins and Patriots finish with the same record in 2023 as they did in 2022 according to the simulation.
Another 8-9 season for the Patriots would show that no progress has been made from 2022 until this year, so I do think jobs would be lost and massive changes would be made.