Season Preview: New England Patriots

Brady, Gronkowski and the rest of the prolific Patriots offense aim to bring a fourth Lombardi trophy to New England

Here we are Pats fans, week Four of the preseason. A mere two weeks away from the Patriots Sept 9th season opener vs the Titans in Nashville. That means its time for me to make my annual predictions on the upcoming Patriots season. This article includes game by game win/loss predictions, as well as my predictions for the Patriots’, strengths and weaknesses, offensive MVP, defensive MVP, key newcomers, and how my predictions stack up to the predictions EA Sports made in their annual season simulation.

Team: New England Patriots

Previous Record: (13-3) Losses: Bills, Steelers, NY Giants

End Result: Lost in Super Bowl to NY Giants

Madden Prediction: EA Sports predicts the Patriots will finish as the top seed in the AFC with a record of (12-4). Tom Brady will lead the way with stellar numbers (5000 yds passing and 50 TD) while picking up his third NFL Regular Season MVP Award. Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo (ranked 95 and 90 overall in the game respectively)are the key players on defense. Rob Gronkowski is the game’s top ranked tight end at 97 overall, and receiver Wes Welker earned an 95 overall ranking. As the top seed in the AFC the Pats would be slated to play the winner of a Wild Card game between the 4th and 5th seeds in the AFC which would be the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers according to EA Sports.

Strengths: The Patriots possess a top-flight arial attack featuring two-time MVP Tom Brady. They finished second in passing yards per game last year, and they had two thousand yard receivers in Welker and Gronkowski. The Patriots have tons of leadership and experience (Brady Wilfork, Coach Bellichick) as well as an intriguing infusion of young blood (Gronkowski, Hernandez, Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower). These guys are no strangers to the spotlight and will contend for the long elusive fourth title of the Brady-Bellichick era by doing what they do best: Airing the ball out and outscoring the other teams.

Weaknesses: The .Patriots will definitely miss Matt Light at left tackle. His replacement will likely be former first-round pick Nate Solder who has tremendous talent, but is largely unproven and inconsistent. The Patriots will look to improve a rushing attack which is in the bottom half of the NFL, despite losing starting running back Benjarvus Green-Ellis. The Pats also need to improve on their pass defense which was among the league’s worst in 2011. Offense wins games but defense wins championships. The Giants proved this by beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl not once but twice. The Patriots need their offensive line to make the leap from average (14th in Sacks Allowed in 2011) to elite if they want to hold off the Giants ferocious pass rush. Improving pass defense is a prerequisite for bringing the Lombardi trophy back to Foxborough.

Key Newcomers (Offense): The Pats traded for former pro-bowl receiver Brandon Lloyd this offseason. Lloyd, an extra target for Brady, should bolster the Patriots’ a;ready prolific offense. Also, watch out for rookie running back Jeff Demps. In addition to having world class speed and olympic credentials in track and field, Demps played a key role in the Florida Gators’ 2009 national championship. Demps also gained fame on Youtube with this anklebreaking juke move.

Key Newcomers (Defense): The Patriots drafted two defensive studs in the first round of this year’s draft. Defensive end Chandler Jones (younger brother of MMA fighter Jon “Bones” Jones and Baltimore Ravens lineman Arthur Jones) brings a much-needed pass rushing presence to the Patriots. He has drawn comparisons to Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Jones possesses a Pierre-Paul-like mix of athleticism and power. Look for Jones to make an impact right away. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower has plenty of upside, as well as a successful college resume. Hightower captained last year’s Alabama Crimson tide national championship team. Opposing offenses beware; Hightower is known to deliver bone-crushing tackles.

Game by Game Predictions:

Week 1 (@ Tennessee Titans): The Titans will be fired up for their home opener, but the Patriots win this game comfortably. Pats Win!

Week 2 ( Arizona Cardinals) If this was any playoff contender besides the Patriots I would chalk this one up to an easy win due to the Cardinals’ weakness at quarterback, but the Cardinals have many other pieces in place such as All-Pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald. This game starts off close, but the Pats pull away in the second half. Pats Win!

Week 3 (@Baltimore Ravens) This game scared me. After two creampuff games, the Patriots run into a slugfest of a game in Baltimore against the AFC Runner-Up Ravens. Baltimore’s tenacious D slows Brady & Co down just enough to hang on to a nail-biting win. Pats Lose.

Week 4 (@Buffalo Bills) The Patriots come out with their guns blazing, ready to take advantage of a weak Bills team. Don’t expect the Pats to take the Bills lightly though, last years Week 3 loss to them lingers fresh in their minds. Pats blow out the Bills. Pats Win!

Week 5 (Denver Broncos): Pats fans will be out in full force to see the Pats take on Peyton Manning at Foxborough. Unlike past games, Manning fares well at Gillette and puts up big numbers. Brady and the Pats pull out a close win on a touchdown late in the fourth. Pats Win!

Week 6 (@Seattle Seahawks) Pats play a weak team from what is arguably the weakest division in football. Pete Carroll has begun to turn the Seahawks around, but hasn’t accomplished enough to beat the Patriots. Pats Win!

Week 7 (NY Jets) The Patriots win at home against the Jets, asserting their dominance in the AFC East and improving to a record of (6-1) Pats Win!

Week 8 (@ St. Louis Rams) The Patriots are in need of a rest after playing for seven straight weeks. Luckily they have only the lowly Rams standing in between them and their Bye Week. This game is won comfortably, but is not a blowout. Pats Win!

Week 9 (Bye Week) The Pats stagger into the Bye Week with a (7-1) record. They nurse their injuries and prepare to take on the Bills in Foxborough.

Week 10 (Buffalo Bills) Pats win comfortably by maximizing offensive efficiency. Brady gets off to a hot start stringing together many consecutive completions. Pats win big and rest starters. Pats Win!

Week 11 (Indianapolis Colts) Once a fierce and worthy rival, the Colts are now the Patriots’ weakest foe. Pats blow out Indy. Pats Win!

Week 12 (@NY Jets) Unfortunately for the Pats, this game is the Jets’ for the taking. It is a nationally televised game in New York on Thanksgiving. A game that the Jets will win and yap about for the rest of the year. Never fear Pats fans, we’ll get them back in the playoffs….if the Jets make it, that is! Pats Lose.

Week 13 (@Miami Dolphins) The Patriots show the Dolphins the true meaning of hard knocks and deliver a big win in Miami. Pats Win!

Week 14 (Houston Texans) This will be a close one. the Texans are a very good up and coming team and this is a huge game for both teams. Playoff seedings may be on the line. This will be a nail biter. Pats Win!

Week 15 (San Fransisco 49ers): In a potential Super Bowl matchup the 49ers hand the Pats their first (and only) home loss. Pats lose.

Week 16 (@Jacksonville Jaguars) The Patriots cruise to an easy victory over a non-contender. Pats Win!

Week 17 (Miami Dolphins) The Patriots show the Dolphins whose boss in Foxborough. Big win to end regular season. Pats Win!

End Result: I have the Patriots finishing at (13-3), the same record as 2011. The Patriots have a very easy schedule and could easily go (14-2) or even (15-1) if certain things go well. Look for the Patriots to emerge as the top seed in the AFC and return to the Super Bowl.

Offensive MVP: Tom Brady

Defensive MVP: Vince Wilfork

Super Bowl Prediction: The third time proves to be the charm as the Patriots finally overcome the Giants by a score of 24-21. Brady wins Super Bowl MVP and further legitimizes his legacy by turning in a classic performance against a familiar yet formidable foe.

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