patriots predictions

No team has dominated their division like the New England Patriots, who won the AFC East for the 5th straight year and 11th time in the last 13 seasons with an overall record of 12-4. New England would advance to their second straight AFC Championship Game, but would lose 16-26 to the Denver Broncos.

The fact New England was even able to win 12-games and get to the AFC Championship Game was quite an accomplishment considering all the injuries they had to overcome. They lost two of their best defensive players in the first half of the season in defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo. Not to mention the offense had a completely revamped receiving corps and only got 7 games out of star tight end Rob Gronkowski.

While the Patriots have been to the Super Bowl twice in the last seven years, they haven’t held the Lombardi Trophy since 2004. With that said, as long as Bill Belichick is coaching this team and Tom Brady is at quarterback, the expectation will continue to be Super Bowl or bust. New England has made some key moves this offseason that they believe will get them over the hump. Let’s take a look at what the Patriots will look like on both sides of the ball in 2014.

Last Season
AFC East
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
2014 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
DT Dominique Easley, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, C Bryan Stork, RB James White, OT Cameron Fleming, G Jon Halapio
WR Brandon LaFell, DE Will Smith, OLB James Anderson, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Brandon Browner
RB LeGarrette Blount, NT Isaac Sopoaga, ILB Brandon Spikes, ILB Dane Fletcher, CB Aqib Talib, S Steve Gregory, S Adrian Wilson
2014 Preview
2014 New England Patriots Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/7 @ Dolphins
9/14 @ Vikings
9/21 Raiders
9/29 @ Chiefs
10/5 Bengals
10/12 @ Bills
10/16 Jets
10/26 Bears
11/2 Broncos
Week 10 BYE
11/16 @ Colts
11/23 Lions
11/30 @ Packers
12/7 @ Chargers
12/14 Dolphins
12/21 @ Jets
12/28 Bills
Estimated Wins: 10.30

When you watch Brady play, you don’t get the feeling that he’s a 37-year-old quarterback whose career is coming to a close. His numbers weren’t off the charts last year (4,343 yards, 25 TDs), but that was more of a result of what he had to work with. Keep in mind he lost his favorite target in Wes Welker prior to the season even starting.

It’s no secret that the Patriots offense is on a completely different level when Gronkowski is healthy, but he hasn’t been able to stay on the field the past two years. He’s coming into 2014 at full strength and just how good this offense will be will depend on how long he can remain in the lineup. The rest of the receiving corps is back with the addition of free agent Brandon LaFell, who could end up being a pleasant surprise. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola figure to once again be the two main targets on the outside, but I also look for noticeable improvements out of 2nd year wide outs Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins.

New England lost one of their top rushers in LaGarrette Blount (772 yards, 7 TDs) in free agency, but don’t figure to miss him. They return leading rusher Stevan Ridley and get back a couple of capable backups in Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden, plus I wouldn’t be surprised if they got rookie James White out of Wisconsin into the mix.

One area the Patriots would like to see some improvement is in their pass protection. Brady was sacked 40 times last year. While it was T-12th best mark in the NFL, it was 13 more than the previous season and at his age Brady needs to be taking as few as hits as possible. The good news is that all five starters return up front along with top backup Marcus Cannon. New England also used three draft picks on this unit, selecting a tackle, guard and center.

The Patriots defense gets a lot of beef for all the yards they allow, but the important thing is they don’t give up the points to go with it. Last year New England ranked 26th in total defense (373.1 ypg) and 10th in scoring defense (21.1 ppg). Both of those statistics figure to have a good chance to go up when you factor in the players the Patriots get back from injury and what they added to this unit in the offseason.

Starting up front, New England used their first round pick on Florida defensive Tackle Dominique Easley, who could make a huge impact if he’s fully recovered from a torn ACL suffered last September. The Patriots also get back both their starting tackles in Wilfork and veteran Tommy Kelly, who was lost for the year after just 5 games in 2013. On the outside they bring back both starting ends in Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, who combined for 19.5 sacks last season.

At linebacker, the return of Mayo is huge for this defense. He’s arguably the most important player on the defense. While they lose Brandon Spikes, who played well in his absence, they get back both starters on the outside in Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins. Not a lot of depth here, so it will be important that these three stay healthy.

Something to consider. In 2012 when the Patriots had both Wilfork and Mayo for the majority of the season, they finished 9th against the run, allowing 101.9 ypg. With the two sidelined for most of the year in 2013, New England ranked 30th at 134.1 ypg. I think it’s pretty safe to say this is an area where we can expect to see a dramatic improvement.

The Patriots appeared to suffer a huge blow to their secondary when Aqib Talib left to sign with the Broncos, but that was eased when they added one of the best corners in the game in Darrelle Revis, who I think is going to flourish under Belichick’s guidance. New England also added another talented corner in Brandon Browner, who will likely start opposite Revis once his 4-game suspension is up. That leaves the Patriots with a trio of capable backups in Logan Ryan, Alfonzo Denard and Kyle Arrington. They also brought back veteran safety Patrick Chung for depth behind starters Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon.

Regular Season Win Total
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl XLVIX
13 to 4
8 to 1
Odds Courtesty of Bovada

When you look at the roster the Patriots have put together and factor in the advantage they have with Belichick and Brady, I believe this is the team to beat in the AFC in 2014. I know the Broncos have Peyton Manning and made some nice upgrades defensively, but you can see how this team is built to stop Manning and the Broncos high-powered passing attack. At the same time, with a healthy Gronkowski, the Patriots will be just as explosive on the offensive side of the ball and unlike Denver will have a running game they can fall back on.

The schedule isn’t exactly easy, as they have to face the AFC West and NFC North, plus a couple of cross-division matchups against the Bengals and Colts. However, I think this team is on a different level the a lot of teams. Oddsmakers appear to agree on some level, as the only game the Patriots are expected to be an underdog in is at Green Bay in Week 13 (Pick’em @ Indianapolis, Week 11).

Not to take anything away from the other three teams in the AFC East, but I don’t see anyone threating New England for the top spot in the division. With that said, I think the division as a whole is underrated this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if another team joined the Patriots in the postseason. As it is, I have New England going 13-3, which I believe will be good enough to secure the No. 1 seed and a likely trip to the Super Bowl.

I’m usually not someone who likes to bet the OVER on a 10.5 win total, but this is an exception. New England has won at least 11 games in 7 of the last 8 years and this is one of their better teams they have fielded. I also believe the Patriots could be a decent team to back against the spread early in the season. The offense should have no problem putting up points and I think the defense has the potential to be one of the best units in the league.

AFC East Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
OVER 10.5
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