Why I Think the Patriots Are the Team to Beat in the 2018 NFL Season
Published on August 12, 2018
A lot of people think that losing Super Bowl LII was the beginning of the end for the New England Patriots.
I’ve heard NFL touts say things like Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won’t be able to coexist and that the well-oiled machine in Foxborough is about to come undone. Well, you know what I’m saying?
I’m saying that all that talk is blasphemous. I’m saying that all these rumors about a rift between the New England head coach and his quarterback are all just hearsay.
When the Patriots take the field on September 9th for their Week 1 tilt against the Texans, I expect to see what I have seen for the last 15+ years from these two maestros.
I envision Tom gets this offense rolling, and I think Bill pieces it together on defense as he always has done in the past. In fact, I anticipate seeing the New England Patriots make the trip to Atlanta and get back to the Super Bowl come February.
Vegas has them listed as the SB favorites (+700), and I think there are a lot worse wagers out there you could be making. Putting your faith behind the brains of “The Hoodie” and the arm of “Tom Terrific” for a futures bet certainly has some merit.
My plan during this short blog is to highlight the main points that give the Patriots that undeniable edge. Every year, the bunch of New England is poised to make a run at the big game.
Here’s why this upcoming season will be no different.
Tom Brady is as well-prepared and as professional of a player as we have in the entire National Football League. Bill Belichick couldn’t be less interested in the off-the-field antics and what the media has to say about him or his quarterback. The only thing these guys care about doing is their job, just like the motto in New England states.
The example that Belichick and Brady set at the top trickles down through the entire 53-man roster. It’s no coincidence that you see players transform their attitudes once they arrive inside the home team’s locker room in Gillette Stadium.
It wasn’t an accident that after being an undesirable wideout in Oakland in 2006, Randy Moss broke records and was the top pass catcher in the league in 2007.
When players arrive in Foxborough, they learn how to be outstanding professionals. It’s not just by chance that all Patriots players seem to always have the right answer when the media asks them questions about potential distractions.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is all by design.
Starting at the top with Robert Kraft, the Pats owner has delegated power to Belichick because he knows the level of excellence that Bill demands.
It’s not that Kraft has relinquished his powers completely. It’s just that Belichick has such a proven and successful formula for how to run a football team. Just look at his track record.
There’s no reason to interject and try and be the center of attention the way some owners (cough, cough, Jerry Jones) do.
In other words, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
If you have paid any attention to the AFC East over the past 9 seasons, you’ll know that the Pats have owned this division. Not only have they won the AFC East every year since 2009, but they sometimes clinch the division a month before the season ends.
When you take a peek at the Patriots’ divisional opponents as the 2018 season is set to get underway, nothing should scare you if you’re a Pats fan.
The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are in the process of transitioning to their so-called “quarterbacks of the future.” The Miami Dolphins have thankfully moved on from the decrepit Jay Cutler, but it’s hard for fans in South Beach to get excited about the prospects of a Ryan Tannehill-led squad.
Basically, the Patriots should have no qualms about stampeding through this division as they always do. They’ll probably wind up in that 12-14 win range as per usual and have home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
A bye week and a couple home games in January is the perfect recipe for this team to get back to the Super Bowl.
Although I see improvement elsewhere in this conference, it’d be awfully difficult for me to bet against Tom Brady at home in a Divisional or Conference Championship game against a lesser-experienced team.
Until this magical head coach/quarterback tandem decides to hang it up, I see the Pats being the team in charge of the AFC.
I get it, he lost a lot.
Speedster Brandin Cooks and Danny “Mr. Reliable” Amendola are no longer in New England. “Do it all” running back Dion Lewis has found a new home in Tennessee, and longtime left tackle Nate Solder bolted for the Big Apple.
Brady’s safety blanket, Julian Edelman, is even suspended for the first 4 games after violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.
So why am I so excited about what Tom Brady has around him on offense this upcoming season? Well, allow me to divulge.
For starters, their world-beater tight end Rob Gronkowski is as healthy as he’s ever been to start a season. If Gronk is able to suit up for all 16 games (which he hasn’t done since 2011), his production will be off the charts.
There is no denying his skill set, as he’s been the NFL’s premier tight end ever since he entered the league in 2010.
The attention he occupies in the middle of the field when he is running routes opens up the doors for the rest of the playmakers on this team. Other pass catchers will have the opportunity to shine because of the constant double-teams that Gronk will face.
He’s the biggest and most dependable red-zone target in the NFL. He’s like a train moving at full speed when he runs post patterns inside the hash marks. One thing for certain is that no one is more thrilled about having a healthy Rob Gronkowski than Tom Brady.
Believe it or not, sitting out the first four games of the season might be a good thing for Julian Edelman. The Patriots have enough bodies to fill in during the interim, not to mention it gives OC Josh McDaniels a chance to see which wide receivers can step up and handle a full load.
When Jules does return in time for the Week 5 game versus the Colts, I expect him to jump right back into his role as the leader of the WR core without missing a beat. Brady and Edelman have so much trust in one another that I don’t expect the time off to have any impact whatsoever.
I expect Julian to be that same ball of energy that he always is for this offense, and I presume that him taking the field will help ignite the rest of the group.
If others are able to develop their games during his 4-game absence, this unit will be scary good once Jules comes back.
While I quickly touched on some of the key losses on offense for the Patriots offseason, it’s only fair to now shed light on some of the newcomers. Who did the Kraft family bring into Foxborough that will help keep the wheels of this offense churning?
Although Jordan Matthews never seemed to get on track in Buffalo last season, the former star at Vanderbilt University was substantially productive for three seasons in Philadelphia before that.
At 6’3” and 212 pounds, Matthews gives Brady and long and athletic target that will help fill in for the losses of Cooks and Amendola.
If you are worried about the Patriots backfield after losing Dion Lewis, don’t be. James White has already emerged as one of the top 3rd-down backs in the league, and Rex Burkhead can do a bit of everything.
Unfortunately for Mike Gillislee, he might see his goal-line work dissipate due to the arrival of University of Georgia rookie Sony Michel. Sony is a big back who can pound the ball between the tackles.
I have heard some NFL experts call this guy “LeGarrette Blount 2.0,” so I know that Coach Belichick is expecting big things from the former Bulldog.
The Pats wouldn’t have selected this guy in the first round of the draft if they didn’t plan on implementing him into their offense right away.
Exactly what Jeremy Hill’s role will be on this team remains to be seen, but in any case, he’ll add depth and a big body to this backfield.
Hill won’t rush for 1,124 yards like he did as a rookie, but he’s a good bet to be mixed into the rotation and see at least a small chunk of the work on the early downs.
Hill was pushed out of Cincinnati when the Bengals decided to roll with Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard. I think a fresh new start in New England is exactly what Jeremy needs to get out of the funk he was in last season.
Don’t forget, this team still has Chris Hogan to stretch the field and the likes of Phillip Dorsett and Malcolm Mitchell to give Brady additional targets down the field.
Veteran wideout Kenny Britt has a chance to make some plays, and highlight-machine Cordarrelle Patterson came over from the Raiders in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the draft.
They drafted a gifted pass catcher out of the University of Miami named Braxton Berrios, who will be waiting in the wings in the event someone ahead of him gets hurt.
Throw in the 7+ targets per game that James White will routinely see, and trust me when I tell you that there is no shortage of receivers on this team.
Isaiah Wynn, the Patriots’ first pick (#23 overall) in April’s draft, looks to help fill the void up front that was left after Solder’s departure. They also acquired Trent Brown, a 25-year-old offensive tackle who started all 16 games for San Francisco last season.
It sure looks to me like this offense is locked and loaded and ready to put up a boatload of points.
So there you have it. The New England Patriots don’t have to play perfect football the entire season for them to make a run in January.
We have seen it happen before where this team suffers some bumps and bruises along the way, only to have everything clicking by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. The reason nobody likes to play this team in December and beyond is because of how organized and prepared this team is on Sundays.
You can thank Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for their exquisite and unparalleled leadership because it’s the main reason that this engine keeps on steaming ahead.
Ignore the naysayers and all the Patriots haters who say their championship run is coming to an end. As long as the “two Bs” are in command, this team isn’t going anywhere.