Scandals or not, it is 100 percent safe to say that the New England Patriots are dynastic. Their run has been nothing short of incredible, reaching the Super Bowl seven times since 2001 and winning five of those appearances. During that stretch, the Pats have never finished with fewer than nine wins, and they’ve recorded 12 wins or more in seven consecutive seasons.
There’s really no reason to think anything will be different at 1 Patriot Place this year. New England is a healthy favorite to win Super Bowl LII, and the only thing going against them is the fact that picking the Pats in our weekly NFL Pick ‘Em Contest is a tad trite.
Why the Patriots Will Overachieve in 2017
It’s hard to conceive that a Super Bowl champion that went 14-2 a year ago could overachieve, but the Patriots can because we know that running the table is certainly on the table. Rob Gronkowski stays off the injury report, Tom Brady throws 40 touchdowns and Brandin Cooks busts out for a Randy Moss-esque season.
On the other side of the ball, newcomer Kona Ealy morphs into the next J.J. Watt as a 3-4 defensive end, and three undrafted rookies become the team’s future trade-bait superstars. Per code for a Bill-Belichick unit, the defense bends but never breaks.
Why the Patriots Will Underachieve in 2017
Often slow starters, the Patriots get bent over in the trenches by the Kansas City front seven on opening night of the season. In Week 2, Drew Brees tosses four touchdowns and Adrian Peterson runs for two more to outshoot the potent Pats’ offense. By midseason, the seemingly infallible Brady leads the league in interceptions and feels just a step slow. Haters begin calling for Jimmy Garoppolo.
Let’s not forget that five of the first nine games on New England’s 2017 schedule feature teams that have been to the playoffs and won at least one playoff game during the last two seasons, and that doesn’t include road games against resurgent New Orleans and up-and-coming Tampa Bay.
All of the sudden, New England starts 5-4 and looks quite vulnerable, which provides confidence to the rest of the contenders. Sure, the team will do enough to win the putrid AFC East, but finishing 10-6 would certainly be considered underachieving for a franchise that has become the gold standard of success.
2017 New England Patriots Schedule
Week 1: vs. Chiefs
Week 2: at Saints
Week 3: vs. Texans
Week 4: vs. Panthers
Week 5: at Buccaneers
Week 6: at Jets
Week 7: vs. Falcons
Week 8: vs. Chargers
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: at Broncos
Week 11: vs. Raiders
Week 12: vs. Dolphins
Week 13: at Bills
Week 14: at Dolphins
Week 15: at Steelers
Week 16: vs. Bills
Week 17: vs. Jets
Patriots Pick ‘Em Contest Best Bet: Week 3 vs. Texans
The Patriots just flat out have Houston’s number. The Texans are 1-8 all-time against New England, with the one win coming in a Week 17 showdown at the end of the 2009 season when Wes Welker lost his career. And just think about who the Texans will have at quarterback in this game. It’ll either be Tom Savage in his eighth career NFL game or rookie Deshaun Watson. Belichick eats young quarterbacks for breakfast, with a side of honey.
Patriots Pick ‘Em Contest Top Fade: Week 5 at Buccaneers
The Bucs are going to have a lot to prove in Week 5. The world will be watching this one as it’s a Thursday Night Football duel in the Sunshine State. If Tampa Bay is going to prove to be a contender this year, this is the game to do it. Jameis Winston seems poised for the next big step in his career, and this might be the night where he not only breaks out as a franchise quarterback, but an MVP candidate as well.