After following up their Super Bowl championship with an eyebrow-raising off-season shopping spree, expectations are as lofty as they’ve been in quite some time for the New England Patriots. While the team probably won’t finish 19-0 (just ask Julian Edelman), there is plenty of optimism to believe another Vince Lombardi trophy could soon again be paraded down the narrow streets of Boston. Here’s what to expect from the New England Patriots in 2017.
What To Expect From the New England Patriots in 2017
From a roster perspective, the Patriots will field one of the NFL’s best this upcoming season. From the quarterback on down, the team features a near-perfect blend of veterans and talented youngsters that will be a difficult match-up for any opposing team. Unless you’re a subscriber to ESPN’s Max Kellerman’s school of thought, there’s no empirical evidence to support the notion that Tom Brady will have a severe drop-off in his numbers this season. In fact, it’s reasonable to believe that the former Michigan signal caller could have one of his best years since his MVP season in 2010. With Brandin Cooks now in the fold, Brady has a true deep threat down the sidelines, and Cooks’ ability to stretch the field will give players such as Edelman more opportunities to work in the middle. Barring any significant injuries, the Patriots offensive attack should perform like a well-oiled machine.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots are also nothing to sneeze at. The additions of Kony Ealy and Stephon Gilmore should improve an already stout group that finished eighth last season in total team defense. And considering the other AFC East quarterbacks the Pats will be seeing several times throughout the season, the Patriots defensive attack could be just as impressive as their offensive one.
A Favorable Schedule
Given their off-season roster upgrades, and future Hall of Fame quarterback and head coach, it’s easy to get the lost in hyperbole when discussing expectations for the 2017 Patriots. And while a 19-0 record is unlikely, New England’s schedule is enough to give pause.
After beginning their 2017 campaign at home against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots hit the road for a date with the New Orleans Saints, before returning to Foxborough to host the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers. Out of those three, the toughest challenge could be the Saints, simply because the Superdome is a difficult building for any visiting team to win in. And that’s kind of a microcosm of how the rest of the season may unfold: Most weeks the Patriots will (and should) be the betting favorites, but a few games will present a tougher challenge than others, including: A Super Bowl 51 rematch with the Atlanta Falcons on October 22nd, a divisional showdown on the road against the Miami Dolphins on December 11th, and finally a Week 15 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Undefeated? Maybe not. But a 12-4 record, AFC East title and another first round bye in the playoffs might be enough to satisfy the New England faithful.
Enjoy The Ride
It’s fun and exciting to put on our prognosticator hat to try and predict what will happen this season for the Patriots. But, truly, no one really knows what course the team will take in 2017. While 2016’s storybook season stands alone in franchise lore, there’s a particular air about New England that is extremely compelling. Maybe it’s that Tom Brady is approaching a level that few thought was possible as he nears the conclusion to a legendary career. Or maybe it’s that fans are perceiving the team’s off-season upgrades as a signal of one final charge before major personnel changes occur. Whatever the reason, it has all the makings of something very special.