Five bold Patriots predictions for their week one matchup with the Eagles

Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots
Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots / Nick Grace/GettyImages

We're back for another season of five bold Patriots predictions, where I'll take a stab at guessing how each week's game will play out. These are not real bets (I'll be tweeting those out on Sunday mornings) so don't go to your favorite mobile app just yet.

Here are my predictions for Sunday's game against the Eagles.

1. Kendrick Bourne leads the team in receiving

What a strange season for Bourne a year ago, as he seemingly fell into Matt Patricia's doghouse early on and could never quite get out.

After a career year in 2021, Bourne only totaled 35 receptions for 434 yards and one touchdown. However, as Mac Jones heated up down the stretch, it coincided with Bourne's breakout (11 receptions, 161 yards, one touchdown) over the final three games.

Jones and Bourne have picked up where they left off, and after trade rumors came and went, Bourne looks like he can be closer to his 2021 production.

2. Patriots hold Jalen Hurts under 250 passing yards

On paper, this looks like it could be a mismatch for the Patriots secondary, which is now missing cornerback Jack Jones.

A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith each went over 1,000 yards receiving last year, and the Patriots will try to rely on rookie Christian Gonzalez to contain one of them; it is a tough spot to make your debut. However, I think the Patriots' pass rush of Matthew Judon, Deatrich Wise, and Josh Uche can get to Hurts and help mitigate the damage through the air.

3. Ezekiel Elliott records at least three receptions

The Patriots brought in Elliott to help in the red zone and because he has proven to be very good at helping to pick up blitzes.

With the dominant Eagles pass rush, I could see the offense leaning a bit on the backs to help in the passing game. With Rhamondre Stevenson battling an illness, maybe this is a chance for Elliott to see more snaps, and he has proven to be a reliable pass catcher over the course of his career.

In 12 career games against the Eagles, Elliott has 49 receptions, and I can see him grabbing at least three balls on Sunday.

4. Mac Jones throws at least two tocuhdown passes

We know about the Eagles front and the issues along the Patriots' offensive line, but I do think the Patriots will be able to move the ball. If they fall behind, expect them to throw often against a secondary that has suffered some defections from last year when they allowed just 22 touchdown passes in 17 games.

Jones only had four games with two or more touchdown passes in 2022, but three came in the final three games, all against playoff teams (Cincinnati, Miami, and Buffalo). With an actual offensive coordinator and a better-supporting cast, I expect Jones to rebound in 2023.

5. Patriots force at least two turnovers

This one could be considered bold because Hurts just does not throw interceptions (only 19 in 45 career games, including just six in 2022). He is, however, prone to fumbling the football, with 27 fumbles in those 45 games.

The Eagles only turned it over 19 times as a team in 2022, but the Patriots were very good at forcing turnovers with 30 (second in the NFL). If they are going to be in the game, they will need to force a few turnovers in this one.