The NFL season is fast approaching. It seems every year now the New England Patriots are doubted and individuals question if this is the year the dynasty falls. Heading into the 2018-2019 season the storyline is no different.
However this time it feels a little more real. So much drama surrounds Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft. With all the storylines over the offseason about who’s happy and unhappy the Patriots have to play a schedule that carries a lot of intrigue.
Predictions are one of the hardest things to do in all of sports, but regardless here is my crack at predicting the Patriots 2018-2019 season game-by-game.
Week 1: vs Houston Texans 1 p.m.
This is a fun season opener. It is not the typical prime time match up the Patriots are used to seeing themselves in on week 1, but this game should still generate a lot of buzz. The Texans took the Patriots to the brink in their matchup last year and week one is Deshaun Watson’s return from a blown ACL.
Houston has a fierce defense that features players such as J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, and Tyrann Mathieu while the offense should be dangerous with Watson back in the fold and throwing to Deandre Hopkins.
Still, the Patriots are at home and with Houston still integrating their new star New England should be able to take care of business. I’d expect a high scoring affair similar to last seasons matchup.
Final: 31-23, Patriots Victory. (1-0).
Week 2: at Jacksonville Jaguars 4:25 p.m.
Week two we get a rematch of the 2018 AFC Title Game where the Patriots mounted a fourth quarter comeback to down the Jaguars and earn their spot in Super Bowl XII. Week two should be Jacksonville’s revenge.
The Jags have arguably the best defense in all of pro football. Led by the trash talking Jalen Ramsey who recently said in an interview that Tom Brady “doesn’t suck” the Jags defense will be hungry.
They have the speed and athleticism to give Brady and company fits, especially with no Julian Edelman on the field. The offense of the Jags is not a juggernaut, but Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette should be able to do enough. If Jacksonville plays under control and with their emotions in check, this should be a sound victory.
Final: 24-10, Jacksonville Victory. (1-1).
Week 3: at Detroit Lions 8:20 p.m.
New England pays an early season visit to old friend Matt Patricia in week three. Patricia was the Patriots defensive coordinator for the past 8 seasons and has his first crack as a head coach with Detroit.
The Lions have a talented offense with Matt Stafford, Golden Tate, and Marvin Jones, but their defense leaves a lot to be desired. This will be an interesting game strategy wise with two coaches who know one another well.
In the end, I’d anticipate the Patriots get the better of the Lions. New England is a more talented team and Belichick should have a game plan that can topple Patricia.
Final: 28-20, Patriots Victory. (2-1).
Week 4: vs Miami Dolphins 1 p.m.
The first divisional game of the season comes against the Dolphins who are in a state of flux as a team. They did some good things this off season such as drafting Minkah Fitzpatrick and signing Frank Gore to be a mentor, but they lost key players too such as Jarvis Landry and Ndamukong Suh.
Ryan Tannehill will be back under center after tearing his ACL last season and now he will be handing off to full time starting running back Kenyan Drake. The Dolphins are young and intriguing, but this game will be a major disappointment if the Patriots don’t come out on top.
They are at home and should be able to come away with a comfortable victory in this game.
Final: 31-13, Patriots Victory. (3-1).
Week 5: vs Indianapolis Colts 8:20 p.m.
The poor Colts. Not only are they forever tied to the Patriots in a negative light due to the fiasco that was deflategate, but they also have gone nowhere as a franchise since that time.
It’s anyone’s guess if Andrew Luck will be healthy enough for this game, but even if he is it may not matter. The Patriots are at home, it’s a night game, and Julian Edelman is making his season debut after his suspension.
The Colts defense is abysmal and New England will be emotionally charged for this one, that’s a recipe for disaster, (if you’re the Colts).
Final: 35-14, Patriots Victory. (4-1).
Week 6: vs Kansas City Chiefs 8:20 p.m.
The Patriots have another shot at redemption here after the Chiefs pummeled them in the season opener last season. For the most part Kansas City is the same team except for where it matters most, at quarterback.
Patrick Mahomes is the new man in Kansas City and the first year starter is dripping with potential. The way he starts the year should be a strong indicator for which way this game goes. If he is rolling, Kansas City can handle New England.
They have a ton of speed between Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill and they have just enough playmaking on their defense to impact games. The Chiefs are notorious for starting hot under Andy Reid’s guidance and that could happen again here.
Final 24-20, Chiefs Victory. (4-2).
Week 7: at Chicago Bears 1 p.m.
It wouldn’t be an official season prediction story without an upset pick, so let’s get crazy. The Bears have assembled a talented roster that’s likely still a year away from being anything serious.
A lot of that has to do with having an inexperienced quarterback who a lot of folks are not sure is truly that good in Mitchell Trubisky. The Patriots do not typically take teams lightly, but Chicago could sneak up on them.
New England is on the road and will be coming off the Kansas City game which should be tough. This feels like a game the Patriots come out and dominate or they stumble and lose a close one on a couple of strange plays. I’m betting on the latter.
Final: 17-14, Bears Victory. (4-3).
Week 8: at Buffalo Bills 8:15 p.m.
New England versus Buffalo matchups are normally high intensity, trash talk fueled affairs. The Bills typically hype up the game and have a lot to say going into it, but this year feels different.
Buffalo has a messy quarterback situation and did not do much to take a step forward after scrapping (stumbling?) their way into the postseason last year. New England typically has at least one dud performance on the road against a divisional opponent every year, but it won’t be this game.
Final: 27-13, Patriots Victory. (5-3).
Week 9: vs Green Bay Packers 8:20 p.m.
This game has one rule. Assuming both are healthy you have to enjoy watching Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady matchup with one another. They are 1a and 1b in the quarterback rankings in the NFL today.
As far as the actual game the matchup is intriguing. Green Bay should be better this year after a couple of down years (by their standards) the past couple of seasons. Both quarterbacks should be able to pick apart the secondaries they are facing.
Neither defense is particular stout, but I would give New England the advantage on account of the home field. I’m leaning Patriots here, but regardless of outcome, this should be a fun one to watch.
Final: 37-31, Patriots Victory. (6-3).
Week 10: at Tennessee Titans 1:00 p.m.
Can one man carry a team to victory? Malcolm Butler might just do so for the Titans. We’ll never know why Bill Belichick decided not to play Butler in the Super Bowl but what we do know now is that Butler still got paid and he’s motivated.
He has looked sharp in all of the footage to come out of Tennessee and we all know Butler’s emotion fuels his performance. On this day that pent up emotion from Butler will be passed on to his teammates and his home crowd in Tennessee.
The Titans have Patriots ties all over the place, most notably with head coach Mike Vrabel. With the bye week in sight and a motivated team in their path, this could be a tough one for the Patriots to win on the road.
Final: 21-17, Titans Victory. (6-4).
Week 11: Bye
If you’re a Patriots fan and love rumors, this is your favorite week of the season.
Week 12: at New York Jets 1 p.m.
Twelve weeks into the season it is really hard to say who the Jets quarterback will be, but regardless it should not matter. The Pats will be rested off their bye week and should have ample time to craft a game plan that gives the Jets fits.
New York has shown some positive sings, but they are unlikely to pose much of a threat in this game.
Final: 35-10, Patriots Victory. (7-4).
Week 13: vs Minnesota Vikings 4:25 p.m.
This matchup is the best one on the schedule. Both teams are super bowl contenders and if everything goes according to plan on both sides the teams should have good records entering this game.
The Vikings have a dominant defense that is up their with Jacksonville for the best in the league and they have a potent offense to compliment it. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are legitimate threats, Dalvin Cook could be the next great running back in the league, and Kirk Cousins is solid.
This game will likely come down to Cousins. The key for him this season will be to play consistent football and minimize giveaways. If he brings his “A game” for this one the Vikings have a pretty good chance to win.
Final: 23-20, Vikings Victory. (7-5).
Week 14: at Miami Dolphins 1 p.m.
This is a bounce back game if there ever was one. The Minnesota game has the potential to be a heartbreaking close loss, a win, or an eye opening, humbling defeat. Regardless of the outcome Miami will get the wrath of New England the next week.
Normally the Patriots have a let down in Miami, I doubt that this year. The biggest question for this game is whether or not Ryan Tannehill starts for the Dolphins.
Final: 37-17, Patriots Victory. (8-5).
Week 15: at Pittsburgh Steelers 4:25 p.m.
Another year, another trip to the Steel City. One thing is for sure and that is this matchup will be hyped up, and more than likely it will be overhyped. The Patriots are often doubted in their matchups with the Steelers.
For me, those days are over. The Patriots have figured out how to limit Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, as long as they can keep JuJu Smith-Schuster in check they should be just fine.
Bill Belichick can out coach Mike Tomlin and keep his team on track with an important victory in this one. It won’t be easy, and it’s far from guaranteed, but I like New England in this one.
Final: 30-20, Patriots Victory. (9-5).
Week 16: vs Buffalo Bills 1 p.m.
The Patriots close out their season with back to back home games against divisional opponents. The Bills are the first up and they should fight hard in this game.
Still, the Patriots are the favorites, especially if they are jostling for playoff position by the time this game rolls around.
Final: 26-9, Patriots Victory. (10-5).
Week 17: vs New York Jets 1 p.m.
The season finale for New England comes against their division rivals. Similar to the Bills, the Jets should provide a good battle in this one, but they are not favored.
New England should win this game and wrap up another AFC East Division Title for Brady and Belichick.
Final: 29-15, Patriots Victory. (11-5).
The NFL is arguably the most unpredictable of all the professional sports leagues. These predictions may not be correct, they may not even be close to right, but 11-5 feels like a safe gamble on the Patriots.
The schedule features a lot of tough teams and games that could go either way. The Patriots are probably a lock to win their division, but could this be the last season of Belichick and Brady? We’ll find out soon, stay tuned.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @dpriest3