I’ve never been a big fan of looking too much into pre-season predictions. It’s not so much that a lot can happen between the pre-season and week 1, but rather that we don’t get a true look at a football team until a couple weeks into the season. Year after year we see teams that look stellar in the pre-season and stutter when it counts.
This year’s New England Patriots are a prime example. Many people had them pegged as a top team in the NFL due to Tom Brady’s comeback. Yet, the turnover on the team’s defense was significant, with the shocking trade of Richard Seymour slamming home the point that Bill Bellichick was either already looking towards next season, or extremely confident in the rest of the defensive line.
Two weeks into the season, the skeptics are out and loud, with “the (Boston) Sports Guy” already writing doom and gloom articles about the potential for the Patriots dynastic run being over. Bill Simmons makes a few good points, such as the success Bellichick has found tempering him a bit, and the age of the team finally catching up with them, but this Patriots fan thinks we have just a bit more gas left in the tank.
New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
Today’s game against the Atlanta Falcons shapes up as a litmus test for both teams. The Falcons have looked good playing against two teams that project as mediocre, at best, with a strong offense led by Matt Ryan and a solid defense. Meanwhile, the Patriots pulled off a miracle comeback victory against the average Buffalo Bills and got handed a tough loss against the better than expected New York Jets.
With the weather reports guaranteeing a rainy, windy Sunday afternoon, I’m taking the Patriots in a sloppy defense led battle. Expect lots of turnovers in a low scoring game that gives the Patriots confidence headed into the rest of the season.
Patriots Predictions 2009-10 Regular Season
The First Eight Games
With the Patriots sitting at 2-1 after week 3, they face a tough rest of the first half with home games against the red-hot Ravens and the always tough AFC East foe from Florida, the Miami Dolphins. They’ll also face the surprising 2-0 Denver Broncos in Denver, a place where the Patriots seem to always face trouble. I’m predicting the Patriots finish off the first half at 5-3, with wins against the Titans, Bucs, and Dolphins. The Pats will rack up two points in the Loss column against the Ravens and Broncos.
The Last Eight Games
The Patriots will take a winning record into the Peyton Manning’s house and face another team with a winning record, the Indianapolis Colts. Expect an extremely tough and high scoring game, but one where my gut tells me the Patriots eek out a win on the last second heroics of Stephen Gostowski.
Things don’t get any easier for the good guys in week 11 as they face the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. My fellow Patriots fans will hate me for it, and I hope I’m wrong, but the Jets will win the regular season series in another close game. Make it two in a row as the team travels to the Superdome to face this year’s MVP, Drew Brees. At 6-5, it’s gut check time and the Patriots pass with flying colors, going on a five game winning streak to finish off the season at 11-5, a good enough record to clinch a wild card spot.
Patriots Playoff Predictions
In the first round of the playoffs, expect the Pats to face the AFC East division champions, the New York Jets. Bellichick kicks the Pats into playoffs mode as they shut down Mark Sanchez and move on to the second round. There, they’ll face the surprise team of the season, the Denver Broncos, and get revenge for their regular season loss. Moving on to the AFC championship game, the Pats will face the Baltimore Ravens. The Pats will play them tough, but Joe Flacco and Willis McGahee will take the Ravens to the final game.
Thanks to bryan wright for the Patriots logo.