CT's Pre-Season Prediction UPDATE - Week-1
Week-1 vs Miami
Cam Newton looks to be a lock to be the teams opening day starter and without any pre-season games to iron-out the wrinkles that may be left on the new-look offense this game won't be easy for the Patriots.
I don't think they have enough at the WR position to threaten the Patriots secondary to the point they can hang with the defending AFC East champs.
My prediction: Patriots 20 Dolphins 16
Patriots record: 1-0
It was obvious that both teams will need to improve offensively if they want to play into January, but that's what these early games are all about, especially with this limited Covid-19 pre-season that they had.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and company really showed they weren't ready for the caliber of defense the Patriots showed-up with.
Fitzpatrick was 20 out of 30 with 191-yards and three interceptions, all of that was good for was a 44.6 passer rating which landed him firmly at the bottom of that list after week-1.
Fitzpatrick completed his longest pass of the day to rookie wide receiver Preston Williams, that was good for 21-yards.
RB Myles Gaskin and WR Devante Parker led the Dolphins with four receptions each, with Parker leading the team with 47-yards.
Fitzpatrick was also sacked once and ran five times for 18-yards.
The Dolphins also got 3 catches for 25-yards from WR Jakeem Grant, but the 127-yards receiving they got from their wide receiver group might not ever be enough to win an NFL game......unless maybe their opponent has less?
The Patriots passing game was also far from dominant and had only 96-yards receiving from its wide receivers, but in this case it was good enough for the win.
Cam Newton didn't throw an interception and was 15 for 19 with 155 passing yards, good for a respectable passer rating of 100.7.
Newton's longest completion of 25-yards went to 3rd-year TE Ryan Izzo. He was targeted only one other time resulting in an incomplete pass.
Julian Edelman led the team with five catches on seven targets good for 57-yards.
2nd-year wide receiver N'Keal Harry showed improvement from last year as he hauled-in five of his six targets for 39-yards and a long of 13-yards, a good sign for the Patriots offense.
In the end it was the legs of Cam Newton more than his arm that gave the Dolphins defense problems. Newton led the team with 75-yards rushing on 15 carries and also had two TD's on the ground. His longest rush was for 12-yards but also added an 11-yard TD run.
The play-action and run/pass/option (RPO) game plan the Patriots used was causing a lot of problems for the Dolphins defenders, and we can expect to see a lot of that this season, as long as Newton can avoid injuries.
The Patriots offense was easily good enough to beat the Dolphins in week-1, but the 2019 Dolphins defense was 70-yards away from being ranked the worst defense in the NFL last season and the Patriots will certainly be challenged at a much higher degree as they trudge thru the NFL's toughest schedule in 2020.
It's hard not to be excited about what we saw in the start of the post-Brady era, but expectations should be tempered until this offense goes against defenses that weren't turnstiles in 2019.
The final score of New England 21 Dolphins 11 wasn't too far off my predicted score of Patriots 20 Dolphins 16. And, I will say I wasn't too far off with the prediction that the Dolphins passing attack wasn't going to be good enough to get a win against a tough Patriots secondary.
The Patriots are where I predicted them to be after week-1, with a win/loss record of 1-0.
It's on to week-2 where the Patriots will have a MUCH more difficult time in Seattle vs the Seahawks, who are coming-off a 35-24 road win in Atlanta, where Russell Wilson had a 143.1 passer rating and four passing TD's.
The Patriots defense will certainly be tested in this one.
The Seahawks defense ranked 26th in the league last season, but the addition of SS Jamal Adams and a healthy linebacker group should make this a much improved unit.
Below is a copy-and-paste of my pre-season prediction of this week-2 match-up.
Week-2 @ Seattle
Heading-out to the left coast to play the Seahawks in week-2 on a Sunday night is not the most desirable place to go when you're still working-out the kinks early in a season.
The 12th man won't be there, but that's the only thing to look forward to if you're the Patriots.
The Seahawks, unlike the Dolphins in week-1, do have enough on the offensive side of the ball to cause problems for the Patriots secondary. WR's Tyler Locket, Phillip Dorsett and DK Metcalf have enough to stretch a defense and create gaps underneath for RB Chris Carson to keep their offense balanced and unpredictable. Russell Wilson adds another wrinkle to a task that seems too big for a linebacking unit that is too inexperienced for what they'll see in this one.
The Patriots offense will struggle against the Seahawks 2nd-level defense and newly acquired SS Jamal Adams. They don't have enough weapons in the passing game to keep the Seahawks linebackers off of their running game. Cam Newton should run for about 60-yards in a losing effort.
My prediction: Seahawks 31 Patriots 20
Patriots record: 1-1
Here is a link to my complete pre-season Patriots 2020 season prediction - https://www.itsalwaysfootballseason.com/post/looking-at-the-patriots-schedule-with-a-prediction-for-their-2020-record