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2023-2024 NFL Team Preview: New England Patriots

Patriots fans are never satisfied with mediocrity, and that is what they had to settle for in 2022-2023. It was not just an 8-9 season, but a season with a lot of lows and not many highs. The loss to the lowly Bears on primetime where the game wasn't even close, and of course the Jakobi Myers pitch-back to Chandler Jones for absolutely no reason. A lot could have gone differently for this team last year, and it is time to find out how much the great Bill Belichick has changed this crew over the summer going into an AFC East that looks tougher than it has ever been.


Coaching Staff

HC: Bill Belichick: There is not much that needs to be said about Belichick at this point that people do not already know. He is the greatest coach of all time, but it is clear from last year that more than that is needed to take this team to the next level considering their roster in the post-Brady era. I have not doubted him for a long time and I'm not about to start now.


OC: Bill O'Brien: While there are many valid criticisms of O'Brien as a Head Coach in the past, his time spent as an Offensive Coordinator and assistant has shown positive results, especially when he was with the Patriots in his first stint. While I'm not expecting him to turn this offense into a top-10 group, I don't think it will struggle as it did last season when they were 28th in first downs per game.


DC: Once again, the Patriots do not have an official DC, it will be a combined effort and at this point if it isn't broken, why fix it? This defense was tied for fourth in yards/play allowed last season and they are returning several starters from last year and added a first-round corner, they know what they are doing.


Key Off-Season Additions

WR Juju Smith-Schuster

RT Reily Reiff

TE Mike Gesicki

T Calvin Anderson

RB Ezekiel Elliott

EDGE Trey Flowers

CB Christian Gonzalez (R)


Key Off-Season Losses

WR Jakobi Myers

TE Jonnu Smith

WR Nelson Agholor

T Isaiah Wynn

RB Damien Harris


As usual, there were no blockbuster moves made by New England going into a new season as they made minor moves, maneuvered around the draft, and stayed quiet about what they were planning to do. I don't think Zeke is an upgrade over Harris at this point in his career, the same thing with Juju and Myers, Anderson and Wynn, and Gesicki and Smith. A lot of replacing and not upgrading. I do like them bringing back Trey Flowers and drafting Christian Gonzalez, who I had as my #1 CB in the draft.


Depth Chart Strengths


  1. DL: With Matthew Judon, Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, and Deatrich Wise, the starting unit has pass-rushing and some big run-stoppers in the middle. In the second unit there is the rookie DE Deion White, 2nd year DT Christian Barmore, and 3rd year edge rusher Josh Uche. This is a deep unit.

  2. DBs: Strong defensive back groups are a staple of Bill Belichick teams, and this one is no different. Jack Jones, Christian Gonzalez, Jonathan Jones and Marcus Jones (yes, three Jones') make up the first four corners while the safety positions are manned by Adrian Phillips and Kyle Duggar with Jabril Peppers and Jalen Mills backing them up. This is a well-coached unit with a lot of depth.

  3. OL: Trent Brown, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Michael Onwenu, and Calvin Anderson may not be the most star-studded list of names, but they can get the job done as long as the right side holds up.

Depth Chart Weaknesses

  1. WR: So here is the deal, while there have been some decent additions to this room, I'm concerned about the health at the top of the depth chart. Juju has had knee issues and there have been some bad reports recently that reinforce those worries. DeVante Parker also has had some health concerns in the past few seasons and the depth is piss poor, I don't believe in Kayshon Boutte or Demario Douglas and Matthew Slater is a great special teamer but not a great receiver. I like Kendrick Bourne in the slot but there are a lot of worries for me in this unit.

  2. Strong-Side LB: I'm splitting hairs here but Jahlani Tavai is a weak spot in the LB unit. Ja'Whaun Bentley is no longer speedy enough to get sideline-to-sideline and I don't believe in Tavai's play-recognition ability and behind him is Marte Mapu, a 3rd round rookie with a lot left to prove.

  3. QB: This is not me talking down on Mac Jones, I think Mac Jones is an average QB, the issue is that if you are looking to build a team that eventually can compete for a Super Bowl around an average QB, the rest of your roster has to be a lot more talented than what the Patriots have going. While I don't doubt Jones' ability to have a decent year, I question what his ceiling is this season, and his backup is Matt Corral, who I have zero faith in.

Schedule Prediction

Week 1: Vs Eagles: LOSS

Week 2: Vs Dolphins: WIN

Week 3: @ Jets: WIN

Week 4: @ Cowboys: LOSS

Week 5: vs Saints: WIN

Week 6: @ Raiders: WIN

Week 7: vs Bills: LOSS

Week 8: @ Dolphins: LOSS

Week 9: Vs Commanders: WIN

Week 10: Vs Colts: WIN

Week 12: @ Giants: LOSS

Week 13: Vs Chargers: WIN

Week 14: @ Steelers: WIN

Week 15: vs Chiefs: LOSS

Week 16: @ Broncos: WIN

Week 17: @ Bills: LOSS

Week 18: Vs Jets: LOSS


FINAL RECORD PREDICTION: 9-8


Explanation

To explain a few of the game results that may be in question, I have them winning week 3 against the Jets for multiple reasons, firstly, Belichick handles the Jets pretty well, but more importantly, for a team that's gone through as much change as the Jets, it takes some time to adjust. The Jets will be coming off of playing against the Bills and the Cowboys with the Chiefs coming up the week after, I can see them looking past this team or struggling to adjust in the first month. Week 13 vs. the Chargers will be an interesting one because the Chargers will be coming off CRAZY amounts of travel. They go from on the road vs the Jets to at home vs. the Lions, then BACK across the country to visit Green Bay, then AGAIN back home to LA to face the Ravens, and THEN AGAIN come back across the country to face the Patriots in Foxborough in December, while I have the Patriots coming off of a loss to the Giants after their bye week and wanting a win badly, it's a good spot for them. As I said in my notes about their offseason moves, I just feel like there was a lot of replacing on a team that needed upgrading, I have them having the same record this season as they did last season because I see a similar team, I gave them the benefit of the doubt on some of their road games because Belichick is a genius and will always be, but at the same time, it can only take you so far. In a tough division and an even tougher conference, a playoff berth may be tough this year, but I believe they will be in the hunt going into the final stretch.


Betting

I will say that I am tempted to take over 7.5 wins but I am pretty concerned about several different factors on this team that make me ambivalent about laying any units down here. I'll watch with interest, but not with any stake.

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