Here we go NFL fans, it all kicked Thursday night in Seattle and again into the breach we go my friends. I’ve got picks for you here, Patriots schedule and results, some Patriots player awards and some other random thoughts on what the 2014 NFL schedule will begin. No crazy predictions from me, I mean its the Patriots, the NFL model of consistency since 2001, so I’ll try and make it funny. AND WE’RE OFF!
Week 1: Patriots @ Dolphins
Scariest game on the Patriots schedule in my opinion, partly because we haven’t seen the Pats play in 8 months and partly because of Miami. After the Logan Mankins trade to Tampa Bay we don’t know what the offensive line will look like, and the Dolphins front seven is legit. Plus, the Pats and Tom Brady struggle when they take their talents to South Beach. I still think the Pats win 27-20, but I also think we see a bit of the future with the continued development of Ryan Tannehill as the next elite QB to call the AFC East home.
Post Week 1: Patriots 1-0, Offensive Points Per Game 27, Defensive Points Per Game 20.
Week 2: Patriots @ Vikings
Two road games to start the season allows for Gillette Stadium to host more fall concerts! Just kidding, but seriously as long as the Pats stay off of Lake Minnetonka they will beat up on old friend Matt Cassell. The Vikings are a couple of years and the development of rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater away from being relevant, despite having Adrian Peterson. Pats win 31-13.
Post Week 2: Patriots 2-0, Offensive Points Per Game 29, Defensive Points Per Game 16.
Week 3: Raiders @ Patriots
Pats may have been forced on the road their first two weeks, but the poor Raiders have to come east to the Jets in week 1 and then the Pats in week 3. Just a crappy draw for rookie QB Derrik Car, who hopes to find better NFL fortunes as a starter than his older brother David ever did. Pats win 34-10.
Post Week 3: Patriots 3-0, Offensive Points Per Game 30, Defensive Points Per Game 14.
Week 4: Patriots @ Chiefs
Not only doesn’t Andy Reid scare me as the opposing head coach, neither does Alex Smith as the opposing QB. Jamaal Charles is good and Arrowhead is a tough place to play, but the Pats should walk to a 24-17 win.
Post Week 4: Patriots 4-0, Offensive Points Per Game 29, Defensive Points Per Game 15.
Week 5: Bengals @ Patriots
The Bengals are a solid group and if the Darrelle Revis weren’t around to deal with A.J. Green I’d have more apprehension in picking the Pats so casually. But he is around so Pats win 24-16.
Post Week 5: Patriots 5-0, Offensive Points Per Game 28, Defensive Points Per Game 15.
Week 6: Patrots @ Bills
Contrary to My Friend Craig’s living on a prayer belief that E.J. Manuel and the Bills are poised to explode onto the NFL playoff scene he is on some taking some bad medicine. Head Coach Doug Marrone looks to be out of his depth and while I like their weapons in C.J. Spiller, Sammy Watkins, Mike Wallace and Fred Jackson, signing Kyle Orton and paying him $5 million dollars after failing to trade for Ryan Mallett makes me think that the Bills front office is acknowledging that E.J. Manuel was a reach pick in the first round of the 2013 draft. Their front seven is rediculously good, but will their secondary be the same after losing Jarius Byrd to the New Orleans Saints, probably not. Pats win 21-10.
Post Week 6: Patriots 6-0, Offensive Points Per Game 26, Defensive Points Per Game 14.
Week 7: Jets at Patriots
If Geno Smith proves to take a step forward during the first six weeks of the season, I’m going to have a far different opinion of this game when we get to week 7, but right now? I’m confident the Pats win handily as the only player on the offense that scares me is Eric Decker. Even if their stout front seven recudes the Pats run game to quick screens to Shane Vereen and Tim Wright. Pats win 24-13.
Post Week 7: Patriots 7-0, Offenseive Points Per Game 26, Defensive Points Per Game 14.
Week 8: Bears at Patriots
If the Patriots aren’t carfuel after my predicted 7-0 start da bears could come to Foxbourough and blow out the Pats. Even with Revis in the secondary the Bears passing game is excellent. This will be the first, but not the last, time the Pats are likely to need to win a shootout. Pats win 44-42.
Post Week 8: Patriots 8-0, Offensive Points Per Game 28, Defensive Points Per Game 17.
Week 9: Broncos @ Patriots
The Bronco’s offensive, fueled by new designer PED Molly, come to town and the Pats have to win a second shootout in as many weeks. Its the final game of the Patrtiots hardest 3 game stretch, luckily all 3 come at home and as such the Pats come out on top 41-38.
Post Week 9: Patriots 9-0, Offensive Points Per Game 30, Defensive Points per Game 19.
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: Patriots @ Colts
Andrew Luck and the Colts can shootout with the best of them, but I don’t think the pats can win 3 shootouts in a row. Good thing the Colts offensive line is awful and the Pats will dominate in the trenches and grind out a 17-14 road win.
Post Week 11: Patriots 10-0, Offensive Points Per Game 28, Defenseive Points Per Game = 19.
Week 12: Detroit @ Patriots
This is the fourth of five games that will likely call for an over under of 65+, and it is hard to score 30+ points 5 games in a row. The Lions are a beast of a team talent wise and have been continually disappointing. By week 11 we will know if it was the old coaching or if this group of talent just can’t play together. Pats win 24-21.
Post Week 12: Patriots 11-0, Offensive Points Per Game 28, Defensive Points Per Game 19.
Week 13: Patriots @ Packers
After winning a long stretch of tough game the Pats fall to a Packers team that can light up the scoreboard. I’d give the Pats more of a chance were this game at home, but as NFC contenders, with big time QB Aarron Rodgers at the helm, The Packers won’t lose this, or many, games at home. Packers win 34-17.
Post Week 13: Patriots 11-1, Offensive Points Per Game 27, Defensive Points Per Game 20.
Week 14: Patriots @ Chargers
This could be the 6th high scoring offense in a row, and second on the road. We will know well before week 14 if the Pats are facing a legit AFC contender or that Head Coach Mike McCoy and QB Phillip Rivers were one year wonders. Personally I’m leaning toward legit contenders and that the Pats falter again on the road. Which is rare as the Pats have hardly ever lost back to back games in the Belicheck era. Pats lose 21-17.
Post Week 14: Patriots 11-2, Offensive Points Per Game 26, Defensive Points Per Game 20
Week 15: Dolphins @ Patriots
The Dolphins coming to Foxboro in December is exactly what the doctor ordered to renew the vigor of the Pats season. Like I said earlier the Dolphins are good, but not in the Patriots class, yet. Plus at this point in the schedule, after consecutive loses the don’t scare me. Pats win 31-14.
Post Week 15: Patriots 12-2, Offensive Points Per Game 26, Defensive Points Per Game 20.
Week 16: Patriots @ Jets
The Patriots hit a speed bump in the meadowlands. The Jets front seven dominates a Pats Offensive line that to this point has been good and make Tom Brady’s day a nightmare. The defense is stout in holding back the Jets offense, but it isn’t enough as the Jets sneak this one out 17-14.
Post Week 16: Patriots 12-3, Offensive Points Per Game 26, Defensive Points Per Game 20.
Week 17: Bills @ Patriots
The Buffalo Bills come to town and so does “My Friend Craig” so we can so go see the Mighty Mighty Bosstones Home Town Throwdown. The NFL has been kind enough to schedule a Bill/Pats game for this weekend now 2 years in a row and so I get to watch the Pats beat up on his Bills with him! I think I will likely have to go easy on poor “My Friend Criag” this year as it is likely to be the final game of a very rough season for Bills fans. Likely also the final game in what amouts to the disastrous tenure of Coach Doug Marrone. Pats win 34-14.
Post Week 17: Patriots 13-3, Offensive Points Per Game 26, Defensive Points Per Game 19.
13-3 puts the Patriots in the running for home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first round bye. I see them into the AFC Championship game relatively easily and likely into the Super Bowl.
My Regular Season Offensive MVP is Shane Vereen as we see him play all over the offense, catch 90-100 balls and be a homerun threat the Patriots haven’t had since Randy Moss.
My Regular Season Defensive MVP is Darrelle Revis because he is Darrelle Revis and makes the entire defense better just being on the field.
My Rookie of the Year is Bryan Stork as by week 4 he takes over the center role and settles the offensive line and sets it up for years to come.
My Unsung Hero is Aaron Dobson as we see him turn into the Patriots second most reliable reciever, second only to Vereen. While Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski are both still very good, Dobson’s emergence allows them to be even more dominant.
Some other random NFL thoughts….
Peyton Manning hangs it up after this year.
Logan Mankins makes the Tampa Bay line great and Doug Martin benefits reemerging as a budding NFL star.
Calvin Johnson wins the NFL MVP.
The team not named Patriots that I like watching the most in 2014 is the Chicago Bears because I think Head Coach Mark Tressman is legit and that Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and Martellus Bennett combine to put up Offensive numbers we have only seen from guys like Brady and Manning previously.
The 49ers struggle to an 7-9 season.
The Seahawks defense is again amazing and they battle the Bears for the NFC championship and a trip to the Super Bowl.
Jason Garrett is finally fired from the Dallas Cowboys because as good as the offense will be the defense might be equally as bad.
Tom Coughlin retires from the New York Giants as the team is just a shell of what it used to be and Eli Manning is awful, again.
If Atlanta doesn’t bounce back to at least battle for a playoff spot Mike Smith will be job hunting in January.
Andy Reid and the Chiefs struggle and the newly signed QB Alex Smith’s deal looks like a big expensive mistake.
And the Super Bowl winner is a long way off from being crowned, so much can happen during the course of an NFL season that it can be impossible to predict, but I’ll tell you this, Seattle versus New England is a real possiblity and I’ll take that as my pick.