The Patriots are unlikely to make the postseason in 2023, but if they do these three things, they can indeed clinch a spot. It's truly unbelievable how talented teams are in the AFC. Nearly every team has at least an argument to make the postseason in 2023, and I think there are 10 legitimate playoff contenders.
No one is really talking about the Patriots as a team that can make the postseason in 2023. Between free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft, they have improved their roster, but nothing too aggressive. They should have pursued a QB upgrade, in my opinion, but Mac Jones does seem to have a solid chance at success in 2023 between the improvement in coaching and the slight improvement in pass catchers.
If the Patriots do these three things in 2023, they can make the postseason this year.
The Patriots must do these three things to make the playoffs in 2023
The Patriots must field a top seven defense
The Patriots had the 11th ranked scoring defense in 2023. In 2021, they had the 2nd ranked scoring defense, which was a big help in them going 10-7 with a rookie QB. In 2023, their defense needs to be elite.
Right now, it's the only side of the ball on the roster that can be trusted. We truly do not know how the offense is going to perform. Bill O'Brien is a good coach and the upgrades along the offense are evident, but until they take the field together, we won't know how they'll perform.
We can say with strong certainty that the defense is going to be solid, but they need to flirt with that elite status if they want to give the offense the best chance to succeed.
The Patriots must limit their turnovers
Believe it or not, some of the best teams and offenses in the NFL in 2022 turned the ball over quite a bit. I guess that's the price that teams have to pay if they are a high-powered offense and are throwing the ball all over the yard.
The Chiefs, Bills, and Jaguars all ranked in the top seven in fumbles in 2022, and all three were playoff teams. The Cowboys and Dolphins ranked in the top 10 in interceptions thrown and both were high-powered offenses who made the playoffs.
Obviously the Pats need to limit their turnovers, but I am of the belief that their offense isn't going to be anything special. I think they'll be able to move the ball just fine, but I don't envision this unit being able to put 30 points on the board with much regularity, at least not yet.
For that reason, the best thing they can do is to simply not give the ball away on offense. If they can at least play keep-away during the season, opposing offenses like the Chiefs, Bills, Dolphins, and Chargers won't have as many chances to do damage, and this brings me to my last point.
The Patriots must field a top-10 rushing attack
The team ranked just 24th in yards on the ground in 2022, which isn't like them. Being that I think their passing attack isn't going to be special, I think what needs to happen at the very least is their running game being elite.
If the Pats want to do damage in 2023, they'll need to adopt an old-school mindset of football - a strong running game and a strong defense to wear down their opponents. It's that simple. Mac Jones probably isn't going to throw for 30 touchdowns and I don't think the offense will have a 1,000 yard receiver, but what they appear to have is a very good RB tandem of Rhamondre Stevenson and James Robinson.
Fielding a top 10 rushing attack while limiting the turnovers on offense and playing elite defense is the formula for the New England Patriots to make the playoffs in 2023.