The New England Patriots might be in an awful situation for the 2023 season. Right now, they appear to be stuck in that irrelevant middle ground, or as some might call, no man's land. This is the worst spot to be in as an NFL franchise.
There are truly only three categories of teams in the NFL. We can classify every single team into one of these three slots. The first slot are the true contenders. These are the teams who can truly compete for and win a Super Bowl at any point.
Teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Francisco 49ers are all great examples of those contenders. The second slot of teams would be those who are truly rebuilding. These teams obviously aren't competing this year, but at least have bought some time because of said rebuilt.
Two great examples of this would be the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals. They are obviously a few years away from competing, and everyone, including their fanbase, likely know it. The last tier are those teams who are stuck in the middle. We can't really tell how good they are at the moment.
Now, there are a few degrees to this. A team like the Jacksonville Jaguars probably aren't Super Bowl contenders yet, but it's clear that they are preparing to burst out of this middle tier. A team like the Minnesota Vikings are in a weird spot, right? They have an aging quarterback, have parted with quite a few veterans this offseason, but are clearly still trying to win.
Their long-term stance is a bit unknown, though. Will they embrace a rebuild? Will they still try to go for it with Kirk Cousins? It's a mystery, truly. The New England Patriots are an unfortunate example of this. They have a good bit of young talent on their roster, which bodes well for their long-term, but their overall roster construction makes it hard to get a pulse as to what this team is trying to do.
The roster clearly isn't good enough to win, right? Can this roster and team hang with the elites of the AFC? Mac Jones, right now, is not a good QB in the NFL. He's probably, at best, the 20th best signal caller in the league, and that is not good enough to win in the NFL.
I think the Patriots are unfortunately in no man's land for 2023. I don't think their roster is good enough to make much headway in the conference and I don't see much they can do between now and the beginning of the season to climb to a contending status. They may just have to roll with the punches for 2023.