UPDATE: 2021 Patriots Season Prediction
Week-12 is in the books and it's about time I post an update to my Patriots season prediction.
At this point of my season prediction that was originally posted on September 7th, I have the teams' record at 6-6. The Patriots current record at this point is 8-4.
That makes my prediction off by two games to this point.
I started out by getting the results of the first seven games correct, but have gone 3-2 since that point.
The two games I have missed on were the week-8 game at the Chargers and the week-10 game vs the Browns.
The week-10 game vs the Browns is one that I don't look at and think I should have seen that coming, as Baker Mayfield has been playing with a left shoulder injury that is destined for surgery at some point and a few other nagging injuries.
The team has put-up less than impressive offensive numbers for the past three weeks, including scoring 13-points against the Lions, a game in which they still managed to win.
They scored seven points against the Patriots and 10-points vs the Ravens in that span.
The Browns may never be a playoff contender this season if Mayfield remains hurt the rest of the way.
The other game I was wrong about was the Patriots victory in Los Angeles against the 4-2 Chargers in week-8 That game was one that I thought the Chargers would win, right up to the opening kickoff.
The Patriots were 3-4 at the time and had to travel across the country to play the Chargers who were coming off of their bye week and had the extra week to prepare for this game. It didn't matter, the Patriots came into LA LA Land and won 27-24.
If the two teams were playing again next week I would probably pick the Chargers again, and I'd probably be wrong again.
I have the Patriots going 2-3 the rest of the way. They have a tough stretch coming-up, with two games vs the Bills and a game against the Colts. These next three games will really get the AFC playoff picture into shape.
The Patriots are currently the #2 seed in the AFC, but will see some talented competition these next few weeks.
I have them losing to the Bills next week, losing to the Colts in week-15, beating the Bills in week-16, beating the Jaguars in week-17 and losing to the Dolphins in Miami in week-18, just because they always seem to struggle in Miami.
Below is the updated season prediction.
Week-1 VS Dolphins
Mac Jones vs Tua Tuglaviola
The Patriots have the better defense and they’ll need it to play like it.
Turnovers should play a big part in this one. The team with the least of them should win.
It’s in Foxboro so there’s an edge there, but this won’t be easy.
If Tua is able to get out of the pocket and use his legs it could be the wildcard here.
This is a tough one, but I’ll have to give the edge to the Dolphins in Jones’ first NFL game.
Dolphins 23 Patriots 17 Record: 0-1
Tua threw one INT. The Patriots fumbled 4 times and lost two of them. Turnover advantage went to the Dolphins.
Dolphins win 17-16. Patriots record: 0-1 Prediction correct.
Week-2 AT Jets
It’s not the same ole Jets, but they’re still too far away from being able to compete for the division title.
Rookie QB Zach Wilson will get his first home start and Mac Jones will get his first road start.
There might be less pressure for Jones on the road than for Wilson at home here.
The Patriots defense should be too much for the young QB and the Jets team as a whole.
Patriots 26 Jets 16 Record: 1-1
Zach Wilson threw 4 INT’s. Mac Jones threw no INT’s.
Patriots cruised to an easy win.
Patriots win 25-6. Patriots record: 1-1 Prediction correct.
Week-3 VS Saints
Jameis Winston this time, not Drew Brees.
There are a lot of weapons for Winston’s passing attack, and Alvin Kamara is always a threat on the ground, so the Pats defense will have to be sharp. They face another QB who can do damage if he’s let out of the pocket. They will also have to cover a great receiving corp without their top Cornerback, as Stephon Gilmore remains on the PUP list for this one.
The Saints had the 4th best defense in the league last year and the 5th best pass defense, so Mac Jones is going to get a taste of a top NFL defense in this one.
I think this one is a bit too big for Jones.
Saints 29 Patriots 16 Record: 1-2
Mac Jones had 3 INT’s. Jaimis Winston had 0.
Saints win 28-13 Patriots record: 1-2 Prediction correct.
Week-4 VS Buccaneers
He’s Baaaack. And it’s Sunday night.
Tom Brady will play on the other side of the field at Gillette Stadium for the first time. Perhaps that will throw him off? I doubt it.
With Gilmore still not available Brady and Co. should have success against the NE secondary.
Mac Jones will face another top defense here. The need for the patriots to keep-up with Brady should lead to a few turnovers from Jones and the Bucs should stay away from any real scare in this one.
Bucs 36 Patriots 23 Record: 1-3
Mac Jones was 31of 40 for 275-yards with 2 TD’s and a INT against a beat-up Buc’s secondary.
Brady struggled and was 23 of 43 for 269-yards. Pats miss a 56-yard FG as time expired.
Saints win 19-17 Patriots record: 1-2 Prediction correct.
Week-5 AT Texans
The Pats will face Tyrod Taylor here, and not Desean Watson, and that will make a big difference.
I have the Patriots at 1-3 to this point, and if that’s the case they will really need a win here.
The Texans were worst in the league last season against the rush, surrendering an average of 160-yards per game. This doesn’t bold well against a team that should lean heavily on its running game.
I expect this one to be low-scoring and Mac Jones to make enough plays off of play-action to get the team their second win of the season.
Patriots 27 Texans 19 Record: 2-3
The Patriots rushed for 126-yards and a TD. They scored 10 unanswered points in the 4th-quarter and eek-out a win. Davis Mills threw for 306-yards and three TD’s.
Mac Jones was 9-for-11 with 127-yards off of play-action.
Patriots started four back-up O-linemen.
Patriots win 25-22 Patriots record: 2-3 Prediction correct.
Week-6 VS Cowboys
The Patriots secondary will be tested in this one, and not having Stephon Gilmore will once again make it tough on their defense as a whole.
Dallas has a lot of weapons in the pass game and also has Ezekiel Elliot running the football, so staying in a dime defense all day won’t be possible. Play-action will be used a lot by the Cowboys to keep the Pats defense a step behind in the play recognition. That will help tax the Patriots defense and open-up the passing attack.
The Patriots will probably rely heavily on their rushing attack, as Dallas’ defense struggled to stop the run all of last season.
Their will be room for Mac Jones and company to maker some plays, and they will have to capitalize on some turnovers if they want to hang with the Cowboys in this one.
Cowboys 30 Patriots 22 Record: 2-4
The Cowboys score a TD in overtime and win 35-29. Matt Jones was 4-for-4 for 129-yards with two TD’s on passes thrown 20+ yards. He had been 4-for-19 in that category through the first five games.
Cowboys 35 Patriots 29 Patriots record: 2-4 Prediction correct.
Week-7 VS Jets
Rookie Zach Wilson gets a 2nd shot at the Patriots defense, but Stephon Gilmore will be available off of the PUP list and could make this go-around even tougher for Wilson.
There’s just not enough weapons on this young Jets team to be able to keep-up with a veteran Patriots team. Different week….same result.
Patriots 34 Jets 20 Record: 3-4
Zach Wilson was injured after 10 throws and left the game. QB Mike White replaced Wilson and threw a TD pass and two INT’s. Mac Jones threw for 307-yards and two TD’s with 0 INT’s. Patriots rolled.
Patriots 54 Jets 13 Patriots record: 3-4 Prediction correct.
Week-8 AT Chargers
The Patriots head west on Halloween to face Justin Herbert and the Chargers who are coming off their bye week.
This one is another that’s tough for me to call, but with the Chargers well-rested and the Patriots flying across the country for this one I will have to give the edge to the Chargers.
They have enough offensive weapons to cause issues, and they will look for Joey Bosa to pressure Mac Jones and force balls into their secondary where the strength of the Chargers defense is.
Chargers 31 Patriots 26 Record: 3-5
The Patriots defense confused Justin Herbert all day. He finished 18-of-35 for 223-yards with 2 TD’s and 2 INT’s, including a pick-6 in the 4th-quarter.
The Patriots offense only got one TD – a 1-yard run by Damion Harris – but a defensive TD and four Nick Folk FG’s combined with a ball control offense were enough to hold-off the Chargers.
Chargers 24 Patriots 27 Patriots record: 4-4 Prediction incorrect.
Week-9 AT Panthers
The Patriots are very familiar with Panthers QB Sam Darnold, and will limit what he’s able to accomplish thru the air. If the Panthers get a win here it will because they got timely turnovers and Christian McCaffrey ran for well over 100-yards.
The Patriots will be coming back to the east coast from San Diego and will have their work cutout for them during the week leading-up to this one.
The Pats will put 8-9 guys up near the line of scrimmage and force the Panthers to put the game in Darnold’s hands, and that’s never worked-out too well for him.
Patriots 23 Panthers 19 Record: 4-5
New England intercepted Darnold on three consecutive possessions in the second half — including one that J.C. Jackson returned 88 yards for a touchdown.
Belichick is now 4-0 against Darnold, and the quarterback has thrown nine interceptions and one touchdown pass in those outings.
Patriots 24 Panthers 6 Patriots record 5-4 Prediction correct.
Week-10 VS Browns
We should know by now if the Browns are for real. They have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and should be handful for just about any team.
Going into the season I’ll have to assume that they will be too much for the Patriots and their rookie QB. Mac Jones will feel some real pressure in this one from Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.
Browns 33 Patriots 23 Record: 4-6
Mac Jones threw three touchdown passes, rookie RB Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for 100-yards and two TD’s. The Browns lost quarterback Baker Mayfield to a knee injury in the 3rd-quarter. The Browns have dropped four of their last six and haven't won at New England since 1992, when Bill Belichick was their coach. Mac Jones finished 19 of 23 for 198 yards passing. Hunter Henry added a pair of TD receptions.
Patriots 45 Browns 7 Patriots record 6-4 Prediction incorrect.
Week-11 AT Falcons
It’s a Thursday night game and a short week for both teams.
The Falcons had the worst pass defense in the NFL last season and haven’t done too much to improve that. Mac Jones will have his opportunities in this one.
The Falcons offense can still move the football, so I expect this one to be a fairly high scoring game.
The Patriots will control the tempo with the running game and keep Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense on the bench.
Patriots 34 Falcons 30 Record: 5-6
Matt Ryan was sacked four times and intercepted twice. Nick Folk kicked four FG’s and Kyle Van Noye had a pick-6 for the defense. The Falcons played without WR Calvin Ridley and top offensive weapon Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patriots 35 Falcons 0 Patriots record 7-4 Prediction correct.
Week-12 VS Titans
It’s Ryan Tannehill and the Titans running attack that the Patriots will look to corral this week.
Derrick Henry will be keyed-on by the Patriots and Tannehill will look for room thru the air.
AJ Brown and Julio Jones will need to play a big part in this one since the Patriots will look to stack the box and get bodies to Derrick Henry.
The Titans defense can be thrown on and the Patriots will again use play-action to open-up some opportunities thru the air. Free agent acquisition Bud Dupree will look to make Mac Jones very uncomfortable in the pocket, but if he can’t get to him the rookie will have plays downfield.
If Stephon Gilmore is on the field for this one it will make the task of stopping Derrick Henry a little less daunting and the Patriots have a good chance in this one.
Patriots 27 Titans 24 Record: 6-6
New England's defense forced four turnovers. The Titans were without WR’s AJ Brown and Julio Jones, as well as RB Derrick Henry who is expected to miss the remainder of the season.
Nick Folk kicked five FG’s and Mac Jones threw two TD passes.
Patriots 36 Titans 13 Patriots record 8-4 Prediction correct.
Week-13 AT Bills
It’s a Monday-niter for these two division rivals.
The Bills will have extra rest after playing on Thursday night in week-12.
The Patriots have this one game left before they head to their bye week.
The two teams will again face each other 3-weeks from this one, and these two games will play a big role in who wins the AFC East.
If the Bills are healthy they’ll be a handful for anyone. Their offense has plenty of play-makers and their defense is good enough to at least slow-down an opposing offense so that it just can’t keep-up with Josh Allen and company.
The Patriots will certainly have their hands full in this one, and expect the weather for this December 6th game to play a part up in Buffalo NY.
Bills 37 Patriots 23 Record: 6-7
Week-14 Bye week
Week-15 AT Colts
This game will be in Indy but as of now the time is listed as TBD.
Both teams are coming off of their bye week and will be well rested.
Once again the Patriots will lean on their rushing attack, but the Colts were the #2 rush defense last season and will look to put the game in the Hands of rookie Mac Jones.
The Colts will hope to have a healthy Carson Wents, and their success this season depends on how well he plays. Nobody really knows what to expect from him…..will it be the Wents that threw 33 TD’s in 2017? Or, will it be the Wents who threw 16 TD’s and 15 INT’s in 2020?
That will make this game tough to predict, but I just think Wentz will be a little better than Mac Jones and the Colts defense will make enough plays and give some short fields to their offense and the Colts will come away with the W.
Colts 28 Patriots 20 Record: 6-8
Week-16 VS Bills
The Patriots could be teetering on the playoff bubble at this point. The last team they want to see is the Bills again.
The Bills could have the division just about wrapped-up going into this one, and that could work in the Patriots favor.
The Patriots will lose some they are expected to win and they will win some they are expected to lose, and I think they bring enough into Foxboro as a hungry team to catch the Bills off-guard.
Patriots 29 Bills 25 Record: 7-8
Week-17 VS Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence will head back to the northeast to play back-to-back games in the cold of December.
Last week it was a flailing Jets team. This week it’s a hungry Patriots team that needs to stay out of the loss column if they want to make the playoffs as a Wildcard team.
The Patriots will throw everything they have at Lawrence and hope Mac Jones can limit the mistakes and make just enough plays to send the Jags back to sunny FLA with a loss.
This match-up of two rookie QB’s makes it a hard one to predict, but once again I think the weather and the must-win situation the Patriots will probably find themselves in will be the difference.
Patriots 27 Jaguars 24 Record: 8-8
Week-18 AT Dolphins
Once again the Patriots need to win, but uh oh, the dreaded trip to Miami is upon them.
They just can’t seem to play well down there, and this time it could cost them a playoff spot.
I have the Dolphins winning in New England in week-1 and they will try to bookend their season with victories over the Pats.
The Dolphins could very well be in the same playoff hunt that the Patriots are, so there could be a whole lot at stake in this one.
I think these teams are fairly evenly matched, but this one is in Miami where the Pats notoriously struggle.
Dolphins 31 Patriots 27 Final Record: 8-9
The big question is if the Patriots can be better with rookie Mac Jones under center than they were with a veteran Cam Newton, and with the return of most of their Covid opt-outs on defense and some big spending in free agency.
I certainly think they can be, but uncertain if they will be improved enough to really make any noise in January,
My concern would be that the offense, without Newton, loses his 592-yards rushing and those 12 rushing TD’s that he had last season. Newton did bring something to an offense that defenses had to respect. They needed to contain him and not let him get out of the pocket and hurt them with his legs,
Mac Jones has nothing close when it comes to scaring a defense with his threat of running. Defenses will be able to key on stopping the run game with an extra body or two near the line of scrimmage, while also knowing that if it’s a pass play that they can apply pressure between the Offensive Tackles and expect Jones to be right there in the pocket, without much fear that he runs out of it a gashes them with chunks of yards.
The Patriots also lack weapons in the passing game, especially outside the numbers. Their two free agent Tight End acquisitions will certainly help, but there won’t be much need to play two deep Safety’s in fear of a Wide Receiver getting behind them. Therefor, they should be able to drop the Strong Safety into the box and help defend the run that the Patriots should be heavily leaning-on all season long.
That being said, including extra defenders in a run defense won’t necessarily mean that they can stop it. The Patriots have a very good offensive line and a lot of depth and talent at the Running Back position, so they will be able to wear teams down with the running game, provided their strong defensive unit can keep opposing offenses in-check and keep the games low scoring while not forcing their offense to have to air it out to stay in games.
It will certainly be interesting how teams defense them and how they’re able to counter that design.
Mac Jones rookie season will be a descent one if he can finish with 8-wins or more, in my opinion. Although I have them missing the playoffs this year the fans should feel good about the future of the team. Finding a good young QB is the key to success in today's NFL and I think they have one going forward.
They need to get younger, as they are the 2nd-oldest team in the league going into this season, but they have a good core of young players that should develop into quality NFL guys.
Growing pains aren’t something the fans are used to, but they come with the territory when a rookie QB is leading an offense.
Mac Jones will only get better. His mistakes and INT’s will develop into quality throws, 1st-downs and touchdowns. The young running-back group and quality offensive line will give the offense the stability Mac Jones will thrive in.
The AFC East is on the rise and winning this division will never be as easy as it was when Tom Brady was shredding the other three doormat teams of his era, but the Patriots should be in the mix for the division title for many years going forward.
In case you were wondering:
I went thru the Steelers schedule and have a prediction for their season record.
They have the toughest schedule in the league going in and their division is daunting.
It could be Big Ben’s last season in the NFL and they will play with their hearts on their sleeves, but it just may not be enough.
They will need to stay healthy to have a shot at the playoffs. If Ben gets hurt and misses a game or two it will likely be the end to their playoff hopes.
Final Record: 9-8 Playoffs will have to wait til next year…...hopefully.