The New England Patriots are coming off an improbable Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks, where they intercepted the potential game winning touchdown in the closing seconds. Even more impressive was the Patriots rallying from a 10-point 4th quarter deficit against the league’s No. 1 ranked defense.

For quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, it was their 6th appearance and 4th Super Bowl win in the last 14 seasons. A stretch that has seen them win 12 division titles and miss the playoffs just twice.

New England goes into the 2015 looking to win back-to-back Super Bowls, but may have to do so without Brady for the first 4 games (suspension). The Patriots also will have to overcome some big losses on defense, including defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and shutdown corner Darrelle Revis. However, as long as Belichick is running the show, the Patriots are a major threat to win the AFC.

Last Season
AFC East
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
2015 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Malcom Brown (DT), Jordan Richards (SS), Geneo Grissom (DE), Trey Flowers (DE), Tre’ Jackson (OG), Shaq Mason (C), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Wells (LB), A.J. Derby (TE), Darryl Roberts (DB), Xzavier Dickson (OLB)
Jabaal Sheard (OLB), Bradley Fletcher (CB), Scott Chandler (TE), Brandon Gibson (WR), Robert McClain (CB), Kevin Dorsey (WR), Chimdi Chekwa (DB), Jonathan Freeny (LB)
Darrelle Revis (CB), Vince Wilfork (DT), Shane Vereen (RB), Stevan Ridley (RB), Brandon Browner (CB), Akeem Ayers (OLB), Jonathan Casillas (OLB), Dan Connolly (OG)
2015 Schedule & Odds
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 Steelers -6.5 0.72
2 @ Bills -1 0.51
3 Jaguars -11.5 0.88
5 @ Cowboys PK 0.50
6 @ Colts +1 0.49
7 Jets -8.5 0.80
8 Dolphins -5.5 0.69
9 Redskins -8.5 0.80
10 @ Giants -1.5 0.53
11 Bills -5.5 0.69
12 @ Broncos +2.5 0.45
13 Eagles -4 0.66
14 @ Texans -1.5 0.53
15 Titans -10.5 0.86
16 @ Jets -4.5 0.67
17 @ Dolphins -1 0.51
Estimated Wins: 10.29
Roster Breakdown

New England finished this past regular season ranked 11th in total offense (365.5 ypg) and 4th in scoring (29.2 ppg). They did get off to a slow start, scoring 20 points or less in 3 of their first 4 during a 2-2 start, but once star tight end Rob Gronkowski got healthy it was a game-changer. In the 14 games (including the playoffs) that Gronk played at 100% (starting in Week 5), the Patriots averaged an impressive 34.8 ppg.

If Brady doesn’t win his appeal and it’s up having to sit out the first 4 games, New England will turn to 2nd-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. While Garoppolo is no Brady, at least not yet, Belichick has proven he can win without his favorite signal caller. In 2008, Brady suffered a season ending injury in Week 1 and unknown backup Matt Cassel guided the team to a 11-5 record and would throw for 3,693 yards with 21 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions.

There’s no question that whether its Brady for all 16 games or just the final 12, who ever is at quarterback will be focused on getting the ball to Gronkowski. New England also gets back their stable of receivers from last year, in Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola. They also brought in veteran wide out Brandon Gibson and tight end Scott Chandler.

At running back the Patriots will have to replace the talented Shane Vereen, who was a major weapon in the passing game, catching 52 passes for 447 yards. The favorite to take over Vereen’s role is newcomer Travaris Cadet, who caught 38 passes out of the backfield with the New Orleans Saints last year. The primary back between the tackles will be LeGarrette Blount, with Jonas Gray, James Develin and James White also in the mix.

The only other loss aside from Vereen on offense, was starting left guard Dan Connolly. That job is up for grabs between holdovers Josh Line and Jordan Devey, along with rookies Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason. This unit wasn’t great last year, but managed to right the ship and produce at a high enough level to win the Super Bowl.

Defensively is where the big concerns come into play. The Patriots were one of the top defenses in the league in 2014, ranking 13th in total defense (344.1 ypg) and 8th in scoring defense (19.6 ppg). Not only did they part ways with an elite shutdown corner in Revis, but they also lost their next two best corners in Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington.

I wouldn’t doubt Belichick’s ability to piece together a solid starting duo at corner, but it’s unclear just who those 2 starters will be. Undrafted rookie and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler is certainly in the mix, as is veteran free agent Bradley Fletcher, former Raider starter Tarrell Brown and 3rd-year defensive back Logan Ryan. Whoever ends up starting should benefit from a superb safety duo of Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty.

Things look a little more promising in replacing Wilfork at defensive tackle, as the Patriots used their 1st round pick on Texas’ Malcom Brown, who many thought would be off the board well before New England selected. Brown will start right away next to last year’s 1st round pick Dominique Easley, who they are counting on to take a big jump in year 2. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich remain the two starters at defensive end, though the team added some quality depth in free agent Jabaal Sheard.

At linebacker the Patriots have two of the top players at their position in weak-side linebacker Dont’a Hightower and strong-side linebacker Jamie Collins. The big question mark is whether or not former star middle linebacker Jerod Mayo can return to form after having each of the last two seasons cut short with injuries.

Future Odds
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl L
7 to 2
17 to 2
Odds Courtesty of 5Dimes

There’s been plenty of talk in the offseason about the other 3 teams in the AFC East closing the gap on the Patriots, but I’m not about to bet against the Patriots winning the division. I also think you have to completely ignore the notion of a Super Bowl hangover with a Belichick coached team.

Even with Brady potentially sidelined for 4 games, all signs point to the Patriots posting another double-digit win season, something they have done a ridiculous 12 consecutive years. With that said, this may be their last good runs with Brady at the helm, as he turned 38 earlier this month.

I have New England going 11-5 and safely finishing ahead of the other 3 contenders in the AFC East. Even though I’m predicting the Patriots to go over their 10.5 win total, it’s not one of my favorite bets. I believe there’s a lot more value at there.

AFC East Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
OVER 10.5
Patriots 10-Year Recap
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 12 4 Won SB Belichick 10.5
2013 12 4 Lost Conf Belichick 11
2012 12 4 Lost Conf Belichick 12
2011 13 3 Lost SB Belichick 11.5
2010 14 2 Lost Div Belichick 9.5
2009 10 6 Lost WC Belichick 11.5
2008 11 5 Belichick 12
2007 16 0 Lost SB Belichick 11.5
2006 12 4 Lost Conf Belichick 10.5
2005 10 6 Lost Div Belichick 11

Alec Shane

Alec Shane

OVER 10 Wins – Much of New England’s win/loss record depends on the results of Tom Brady’s appeal of his four game suspension, as the Patriots’ first four opponents – Pittsburgh, at Buffalo, Jacksonville, at Dallas – each provide a unique set of challenges. All of these games are very winnable with Brady under center, but if Jimmy Garoppolo is forced into the spotlight, the Cowboys and Bills could prove to be a problem (Jacksonville shouldn’t be a threat, and it’s tough to envision New England losing their home opener).

However, even if Brady does end up serving all four games, the Patriots are still the best team in the AFC East and there aren’t many teams in the conference who can truly challenge them. Their schedule isn’t the easiest, but there’s no reason to think that 10 wins isn’t the floor for this team in 2015. 11-5 is a relatively safe bet, with losses coming at Buffalo, at Miami, at Denver, and at NYG, since that seems to be the one team the Patriots just can’t beat.

Hal Bent

Hal Bent

The New England Patriots remain the favorite in the AFC East. With the New York Jets (even before the Geno Smith broken jaw) and Buffalo Bills wasting strong defenses and skill players with gaping holes at quarterback and along the offensive line, the Miami Dolphins are the only legitimate threat. Ryan Tannehill is improving each season at quarterback and Ndamukong Suh is a huge addition, but the offensive line is a problem still and the receiving group is young and untested. The Patriots—even with quarterback Tom Brady suspended the first four games of the season—should still win 11 or 12 games based on the production of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and whatever running back gets plugged into the system. Their dynamic linebackers and improving defensive line should support the secondary and continue their amazing run in the AFC East.

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