Projecting AFC East records for the 2024 season

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills / Timothy T Ludwig/GettyImages
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Patriots record: 6-9 

Well, what can you say? There has been a huge change in Foxborough. Was it the correct decision? Only time will tell. But briefly reviewing the Patriots' 2023 season, it seems like the head coach was fired due to the inconceivable number of injuries they suffered.

Robert Kraft was happy to suffer the slings and arrows of Bill Belichick’s tenure while the team was making the playoffs, but with 17 different players hitting IR throughout the season (including Riley Reiff, who was supposed to fix the offensive line) that wasn’t going to happen in 2023. 

Ownership decided they would rather deal with a friendly face instead of a curmudgeonly yet proven winner. This friendly face was only the co-defensive coordinator last year. However (and nobody is sure how much influence Steve Belichick, Bill Belichick, or Mayo had on the 2023 defense), so they bought in someone with head coaching experience to help. Ben McAdoo is a Senior offensive assistant and will presumably act as a sounding board for Mayo.  

So far, it seems like there’s been a bit of a player's revolution around the Patriots since Mayo took over, and that’s fine, but are these the players you want running things? Without Matt Slater on the playing roster, there are now more multiple Super Bowl winners on the coaching staff (Slater, Dont'a Hightower, and Troy Brown) than on the playing staff (David Andrews and Joe Cardona). 

Mayo and McAdoo aren’t the only new faces on the coaching team. Alex Van Pelt is the new offensive coordinator, and he seems to be Bill O’Brien 2.0. Van Pelt has already said he believes you need to establish the run to have a successful offense.

We all saw what happens when you can’t establish the run last season. Former Samford Bulldogs wide receiver DeMarcus Covington takes over as the Patriots defensive coordinator, and Jeremy Springer arrives from the Rams to run the special team's unit. 

It’s not just the coaching team that has been freshened up, though. Although the front office had a somewhat lackluster free agency period, signing players in positions where they already had players and a 31-year-old Jacoby Brissett, they had a more successful draft.

Selecting two exciting quarterbacks and two interesting receivers. They also acquired the steal of the draft when tight end (come H-back) Jaheim Bell fell to them in the seventh round. Bell believes he can follow in Gronk’s footsteps.  

In 2023, the Patriots went winless throughout November but managed to win road games against the Steelers and Broncos in December. That highlights the most frustrating thing for fans: the inconsistency. The team didn’t lose more than five consecutive games but followed up every victory with at least one comprehensive defeat.  

Fate dealt the Patriots a crummy hand when it decided the 2024 schedule. There are three road games in the first four weeks, and two are against Super Bowl hopefuls in the shape of the Bengals and 49ers. Then there’s a trip to London, where they will nominally be the road team but will have more support than the Jaguars.

The bye doesn’t come until Week 14 in early December, when the roster is sure to be in pieces. They end the season with the two divisional games against the Bills, a snow-bird trip to Arizona, and they will host the Chargers, who will be even more strung-out than the Patriots by then. 

The Patriots' front office seems to have decided to fix things that didn’t need fixing while doing nothing to address their biggest issues. They intend to play a right tackle at left tackle because they didn’t acquire a specialist left tackle during the offseason and haven’t signed another specialist pass rusher to help out Matt Judon (or, heaven forbid, pick up the slack if the soon-to-be 32-year-old gets injured again).

It will be exciting to watch the rookies play, but with so much inexperience on both the coaching team and roster, it’ll be tricky for them to string together many wins again this year. 

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