Football season predictions in May for a season that doesn’t start for four months generally setup the predictor to be laughed at, scorned or at least be told “You know nothing John Snow”. That said, let’s do it for the 2022 Patriots anyway.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE 2022 PATRIOTS AND LAST YEAR’S EDITION?
Players – new faces: Jabrill Peppers S, Malcolm Butler CB, Terrance Mitchell CB, DeVante Parker WR, Mack Wilson OLB
Players – gone faces: J.C. Jackson CB, Ted, Karras G, Van Noy(ing) LB, C. Winovich LB, Shaq Mason G. There are also several players in limbo right now including Dont’a Hightower
Draft Class – 10 new guys that the draft experts all love (well maybe not)
Coaches – many changes most notably OC Josh McDaniels out and Joe Judge and Matt Patricia in.
HOW WILL THE OFFENSE BE?
On offense I am looking for significant improvement. Bill Belichick views the second year a player is in the Patriots system to be the most significant. There were a lot of offensive skill players that came into the system last year in free agency. Improvement from Jonnu Smith is a key. The two TE offense has been a Patriot staple over the years. I’m not worried about losing the two guards. I may not like how we replaced one of the guards, but the o-line should be fine.
Steady improvement from the quarterback over his outstanding rookie year is a plus. Mac Jones is in much better physical shape than last year. Only time will tell if the work he is doing to increase arm strength pays off.
I would ask the group where you see the offense declining unless there are significant injuries?
WHAT ABOUT THAT DEFENSE?
I can’t gloss over the loss of J.C. Jackson. The Patriots no longer have a #1 cornerback. We have a bunch of guys who should do well in zone coverage and some unknown rookie CBs. The linebacker position was not strong and was ignored in the draft. I think the Patriots plan on playing a bend but don’t break defense again but with all the new good QBs in the conference this year, I am concerned. Upper level QBs hurt the Patriots a lot last year.
Just as I was finally starting to like McDaniels he leaves. He did a good job with Mac Jones. Judge near my quarterback scares me. Patricia will just do what BB tells him to do. Actually, pretty much every coach will do what BB tells him to do. I have concerns Bill might be trying to do too much himself, but he always has.
THE DRAFT CLASS:
I’m on to Cincinnati. I believe the draft class will have several helpful players but that we could have had more talent in areas with glaring weaknesses.
FINALLY, THE PREDICTION:
Patriots will struggle to get back where they were last year, 10-7 and fight for the 6th or 7th WC spot. I think they can do it if the offense improves, and the defense makes teams punt occasionally.
HOW ABOUT THE RECORD IN THE AFCE?
I’m going 3-3. Bills 0-2, Dolphins 1-1, Jets 2-0. The Bills are too good unless we get another hurricane bowl. The Jets haven’t beaten the Patriots since 2015. The Dolphins are the key. I really like the schedule flip where the Dolphins come to New England late in the year to enjoy some nice New England winter weather. Also, the temperature differences for week 1 in Miami won’t be so drastically different from the New England weather in early September.