Looking at the Patriots Schedule With A Prediction For Their 2020 Record
We're less than a week away from the Patriots opener versus the Dolphins in Foxboro so I figured I'd take a stab at predicting their 2020 wins and losses.
Usually the AFC East is a cakewalk for the Patriots, but this year, without Tom Brady and a lack of weapons for Cam Newton the division won't be the same.
And, based on the final standings from 2019, the Patriots will be going into 2020 with a strength of schedule of .537, making them one of only two teams in the NFL -- along with the Jets -- that will have a strength of schedule above .530, so they will have their have their hands full week in and week out.
We can all check back later in the season and see how poorly I did here.
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
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 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
Week-3 vs Las Vegas
This week it's the opposition that has to fly across the country, and the Raiders will do so having to play a 1:00 game in the eastern time zone.
QB Derek Carr and John Gruden will make their 2nd trip to the right coast this season after playing in Carolina in week-1. They're also playing on a short week after hosting the Saints on Monday Night Football in week-2.
The Raiders aren't completely sold on the skill-set of Carr, and his inconsistency makes this one tough to call.
RB Josh Jacobs will be keyed-on by the Patriots defense, and he can cause a lot of problems for them if he's able to get to the 2nd level. I don't see the Patriots defense struggling to contain the Raiders passing game and that will make keying on Jacobs a lot easier.
The Raiders defense is young and will struggle just enough with Newton and a Patriots running game that will keep them guessing and control the clock as well as time of possession.
I think this will be a close one but the Patriots are too tough at home for any offense this early in a season with only two games under its belt to this point.
My prediction: Patriots 23 Raiders 19
Patriots record: 2-1
Week-4 @ Kansas City
It's the Chiefs at home. Tough for any team, nonetheless one that doesn't have the offensive weapons to keep-up with Pat Mahomes and company.
The Chiefs front-4 will cause too many problems for the Patriots offense and Tom Brady will be in Las Vegas this week, not in KC with the Patriots.
My prediction: Chiefs 34 Patriots 20
Patriots record: 2-2
Week-5 vs Denver
The Patriots play their 3rd game in a row against the AFC West. It's the Broncos heading east for two straight weeks after playing in New York in week-4.
2nd-year QB Drew Lock went 4-1 last season and looked like he belonged in the NFL with 7 TD's and 3 INT's. Playing in NE against this Patriots secondary is nothing he's seen yet in his young career.
RB's Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay will help keep some pressure off of Lock and the Broncos passing game, but they'll need to stay out of 3rd-and-longs or it could get ugly when the passing game starts trying to force footballs into a Patriots ball-hawking secondary.
The Broncos 3-4 defense with Bradley Chubb and Von Miller will keep CamNewton uncomfortable all day, and the play-action passing game will need to click in order for the Patriots offense to pose a threat to a Broncos unit that ranked 10th in total defense in 2019.
These two defenses will keep the middle-of-the-road offenses at bay and this one will be decided late. The turnover margin will probably play a big part in this one as well.
My prediction: Patriots 19 Broncos 16
Patriots record: 3-2
Week-6 Bye week
Week-7 vs San Francisco
Jimmy Garoppolo returns to Foxboro. The 49'ers head east after three straight home games. Garoppolo won't hear a lot of negative remarks get he gets back here, and the butterflies shouldn't be a factor.
The 49'ers aren't going to blow anyone out with their offense but their 2019 top-ranked pass defense will make it tough for New England to keep pace.
Nick Bosa should create a lot of problems for the Patriots O-linemen and ILB Fred Warner will make it tough sledding in the middle for the Patriots RB's.
I don't see the Patriots being able to move the ball well enough to keep the 49'ers offense one-dimensional, and that makes them hard to defend.
Cam Newton will be on the move and needs to make plays outside the pocket for them to have a chance.
In the end it's TE George Kittle and Nick Bosa that are too much for the Patriots to contain.
My prediction: 49'ers 27 Patriots 20
Patriots record: 3-3
Week-8 @ Buffalo
Game #2 against an AFC East team. These division games will probably a very important tie-breaker when December roles around.
The Bills should end-up right in contention for the division title, and this one will go a long way towards deciding who gets it. This will be the fourth division game this season for the Bills.
Bills newly acquired WR Stefon Diggs (from Minnesota) will get plenty of attention from Belichick's defense.
QB Josh Allen has plenty of arm strength to stretch a defense and their stable of young RB's will need to help out with some underneath routes since they lack a TE that is a threat in the passing game.
Buffalo had the 3rd-ranked defense in 2019 and that gives them a decent chance to send some ripples through the division with a win here.
The Patriots offense should have another tough go here. They will need to run the football effectively in order to keep Buffalo's edge rushers from taking over this game.
My prediction: Buffalo 23 Patriots 20
Patriots record: 3-4
Week-9 @ NYJ
Another important division game. The Jets won't scare many teams, but QB Sam Bradford is capable of doing good things within an offense that's led by RB LeVeon Bell and WR Jamison Crowder.
Bell is a threat, but he hasn't seem to find the magic he showed in Pittsburgh. The Jets offensive line is probably the biggest issue there, but the Patriots offensive line isn't what is used to be and they'll need to make sure Bell doesn't get to the 2nd level and into space.
Cam Newton will see another 3-4 defense, but this Jets secondary should still have their hands full with Julian Edelman and the group of RB's the Patriots will throw to.
The Patriots should still be too much for the Jets to handle even without Tom Brady, but this Monday-nighter will be more of a game because of it.
My prediction: Patriots 31 Jets 23
Patriots record: 4-4
Week-10 vs Baltimore
The reigning MVP is now with the Ravens and they are a hungry football team looking to take the next step. This one could set the NFL record for most rushing yards by QB's in the same game. The Patriots will play this one on Sunday night making it back-to-back prime time games.
The Ravens have everything needed to contend for the Championship - a solid defense and an explosive offense. They have weapons at every position on offense and their 2019 4th-ranked defense gets the luxury of playing with the lead almost every game.
They will need a couple defensive turnovers to keep this one close, but in the end it's just too much for a team that lacks enough significant weapons o offense to hang with the big dogs of the NFL.
My prediction: Ravens 31 Patriots 19
Patriots record: 4-5
Week-11 @ Houston
The Texans had the 4th worst passing attack in the league last year and they are now going to have to improve on that without WR DeAndre Hopkins, who was traded this off-season. There's still some decent weapons in both the pass and run games but losing one of the games best players can only hurt.
DeSean Watson is a threat regardless of who his WR's are, due to his ability to make plays with his legs. The Texans Johnson&Johnson RB tandem (David & Duke) should provide enough of threat on the ground to compliment an iffy pass offense just enough to keep defenses honest.
If the Patriots can block DE JJ Watt and OLB Zach Cunningham and keep them from wreaking havoc in their backfield they'll have a decent chance in Houston. One thing we know Belichick will do is scheme to keep Watt from ruining their chances by double-team blocks and quick passes.
If this game was in New England I'd probably lean towards a Patriots win here, but since it's in Houston I'll go with the home team in a close one.
My prediction: Patriots 27 Texans 30
Patriots record: 4-6
Week-12 vs Arizona
QB Kyler Murray and the Cardinals wrap-up their AFC East games with the toughest one of the group here.
The Patriots avoided DeAndre Hopkins last week but they will have to cover him this week, along with the always troublesome veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals also have a quality RB in Kenyon Drake, and that makes it tough to key on any one aspect of their offense, never mind the fact that Murray will use his legs to really stress a defense.
The Cardinals did have the NFL's worst defense in the league in 2019 so the Patriots should be able to attack in enough areas to put some decent points on the board in this one. Blocking Chandler Jones coming off of the edge will be a must.
I think this one could be a high scoring contest, but if the weather for this November 29th contest doesn't greet the Cardinals in Foxboro with cold and snowy weather the Cardinals will be able to use their team speed to create plays on both sides of the ball and I'll give them the nod here in a close one.
My prediction: Cardinals 30 Patriots 27
Patriots record: 4-7
Week-13 @ LA Chargers
It's the first trip to the new stadium in Las Vegas for the Patriots.
They will face another QB that they will have to contain and keep in the pocket. Tyrod Taylor may not be the best QB they'll face in 2020 but his ability to move the chains with his legs is always a threat to a defense.
RB Austin Ekeler, WR Mike Williams and TE Hunter Henry are the biggest weapons for this Chargers offense. Williams is one of the games best young WR's and has size and enough speed to be a problem.
On defense the Chargers have one of the NFL's best pass-rushers in DE Joey Bosa. He had 11.5 sacks in 2019 while fighting thru injuries for most of the year, and the Patriots will need to know where he's lining-up on every play. What makes that even tougher is that on the opposite end of the defensive line they have Melvin Ingram III, who had 7 sacks in 13 games last year and is also known for his ability to complicate a passing attack.
The Patriots should have success attacking the middle of the Chargers defense due to their inexperience at the linebacker positions. The Patriots TE's could be a factor in this one, which probably won't be the case for most of the season.
If they can block-up Bosa and Ingram they will have success.
If they can force Tyrod Taylor into some bad throws and turnovers they should be able to handle the Chargers here.
My prediction: Patriots 30 Chargers 24
Patriots record: 5-7
Week-14 @ LA Rams
The Patriots offensive line will be tested once again in this one. The leagues premier defensive lineman, Aaron Donald, is sure to get at least a double-team all game.
Expect QB Cam Newton to be on the move most of the day as the Patriots will need to scheme designed roll-outs to keep Donald from knowing where he'll be.
There isn't much else on the Rams defense to scare an opposing offense, but Donald is so good they usually have enough within that group.
QB Jared Goff is still a work in progress and WR's Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are a good tandem, but their shaky RB stable, led by rookie RB Cam Akers , will need to produce enough to keep the Patriots defense from playing the pass all day.
Having to go back to the west coast in back-to-back weeks, or stay out west for both games will be a tough challenge for the Patriots.
My prediction: Rams 26 Patriots 20
Patriots record: 5-8
Week-15 @ Miami
This time around it's Tua Tagovailoa at QB for the Dolphins. He will present a challenge for any defense due to his ability to play off-script and use his legs to pick-up first downs.
It's nice to be in Florida during Christmas time, but I don't think the Patriots will find anything good under the tree. They are known to struggle in Miami and I don't think that trend ends here.
Both teams should struggle to put up points in this one, but in the end it will be Tua that does just enough to give the Patriots their second loss in a row.
My prediction: Dolphins 19 Patriots 17
Patriots record: 5-9
Week-16 vs Buffalo
After three straight road games the Patriots finally get back to Foxboro, but the surging Bills are looking to win the division with a win here in New England.
A Monday night battle with the division on the line makes for a good a great game that I'm sure will be worth the late night in New England.
Josh Allen is a seasoned 2nd-year QB at this point and has enough weapons on offense to cause problems for any defense.
After beating the Patriots in week-8, the Bills look to turn the page on the Patriots and become the new bully's of AFC East.
At home the Patriots will find a way to get it done, as long as Cam Newton is still healthy and playing in this one.
The Wildcard spot is out of reach of the Patriots at this point, but the division isn't. I think this win keeps the Patriots alive and fighting for the division title with one game remaining in the regular season.
The Bills should be a .500 football as well, since they also have a very tough schedule in 2020, so the top team from the AFC East will probably finish with a record around 8-8.
This division should go down to the wire.
My prediction: Patriots 27 Bills 24
Patriots record: 6-9
Week-17 vs Jets
The Patriots need to win here, and they'll need some help to get into the playoffs.
The Bills are playing the Dolphins at 1:00 also, so there will some scoreboard watching during this one.
The Jets are still the Jets, and they still can't go to Foxboro and win in December.
The Patriots need this one and the Jets are already looking to the 2021 and a high draft pick. I'll lay the points and take New England here regardless of what the line is.
My prediction: Patriots 29 Jets 10
Patriots record: 7-9
Going into the season I felt the Patriots were a .500 football team, and after going thru the schedule I still feel the same way. A playoff spot is still up in the air, but I think they come-up a little short. They'll need to draft some more weapons for the passing attack to continue being a threat to win the division going forward. Tom Brady is a thing of the past and it will be a challenge to find a QB that even comes close to the production he gave them for just about two decades.
Cam Newton may be back for the 2021 season if the team wants him, but they'll still be looking long and hard for a young QB to build around.
Drafting in the middle of the pack will give them an opportunity to get one. The other option is a WR that is desperately needed. Either way, they should be better in 2021, but the growing pains will continue until they can get a young QB that is consider a franchise player.