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FiveThirtyEight: Patriots “playing with house money” with QB Jacoby Brissett

The Patriots are ahead of schedule and can afford to play their rookie quarterback

FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine is forecasting the next two weeks of New England Patriots football and, well, it’s pretty good. According to Paine, the Patriots are “playing with house money” and are ahead of schedule.

Paine and the folks at FiveThirtyEight have developed a rating system called “ELO scores” which is a super fancy way of ranking a team’s ability at any given point in time.

According to Paine’s calculations, the Patriots were expected to win 2.5 games over the first four weeks of the season if QB Tom Brady were able to play. The drop from Brady to QB Jimmy Garoppolo only has a minor impact on the projections, with the Patriots expecting to win 2.3 games with Jimmy.

The reason is pretty simple: the Cardinals game was an expected loss regardless of whether Brady or Garoppolo was at QB, and then the Patriots are a good enough team to be expected to beat the Dolphins, Texans, and Bills, even with a back-up quarterback.

The Patriots were expected to drop from being, well, the Patriots to a team like the Jets or Bills with Garoppolo at quarterback. The descent from Garoppolo to QB Jacoby Brissett drops the team to a level closer to the Texans and Lions.

These comparisons should stand out because the Patriots play the Texans and Bills over the next two weeks (and I should note that the Bills are even worse right now due to injuries and coaching changes that aren’t captured in the ELO score).

In other words, the Patriots would have a 50/50 chance of beating the Texans and Bills with Brissett at quarterback, versus much better odds with Brady or Garoppolo.

But we should note that the Patriots already have two wins under their belt, thanks to Garoppolo leading an upset victory over the Cardinals. So if the Brissett-led Patriots win just one of their next two games, as expected, then the Patriots will sit at 3-1 and be ahead of the 2.5-win or 2.3-win projections for the Brady-led and Garoppolo-led Patriots, respectively.

Now this isn’t a perfect model because everyone should have calibrated their expectations after the Patriots toppled the Cardinals, but I guess everyone should recalibrate their expectations with Brissett at quarterback.

I guess my personal expectations for the Patriots were still a 3-1 start after beating the Cardinals. If Brissett can deliver that record, then the Patriots are standing pretty.

And if he doesn’t, well, I guess 2-2 is where most had the Patriots prior to the season, anyways.