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The State of the Patriots: Accountability Check Revisited

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Did you make a prediction about this team back in September? Time to pay the piper.

AFC Championship - Jacksonville Jaguars v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Would you look at that - the Patriots won their division and will be enjoying a bye this weekend as the NFL Playoffs begin. Who knew?

Based on the way this season started, that’s actually not an overly ridiculous question.

While the Patriots finished more or less where they always do when the season comes to a close, it wasn’t too long ago that they had dropped two straight to the Jaguars and the Lions. Sitting at 1-2, there was no shortage of hot takes surrounding the inevitable demise of this team, the end of the dynasty, and how this was finally going to be the year the Miami Dolphins dethroned New England atop the AFC East.

You may have forgotten all about that - but I haven’t.

On September 26th of 2018, I wrote an article called “The State of the Patriots: Accountability Check,” where I invited anyone and everyone to put their opinions regarding the team in the comment section, with the intention of revisiting what everyone had to say once the season came to an end. Well here we are, at the end of the season, and it’s time for everyone to face the music.

There were ultimately almost 300 comments on that article, so I won’t be able to post them all (luckily for a lot of you). However, below represents what I think is a pretty solid cross-section of that comment section from back in September. If you’d like to take a full look at them all and see how bleak everyone thought things were, click here and have yourself a chuckle.

I also had to cut down some comments for the sake of brevity, but I didn’t alter anything anyone said or cut the comment in any way that might cause others to misconstrue what you said. You were all mature enough to stand by your predictions and subject yourself to getting called out, so you deserve no less than full transparence.

For those of you who I’m calling out below: no hard feelings. You weren’t alone in your opinions, and I bet you’re glad that you were wrong.

And plus, some of you were 100% correct. I mean, take this guy, for example:

The Patriots will still find a way to reach at least 10 wins. 11-5 and a first round playoff bye is as on the table as it ever was, and by the time December rolls around this team will be firing on all cylinders. Posted by Alec Shane on Sep 26, 2018 | 2:03 PM

I don’t know the man, but I’d like to shake his hand. I mean he called it.

As for the rest of you...

NE will finish 5th in offensive DVOA and 21st in defensive DVOA at the end of the season. Posted by phal3123 on Sep 26, 2018 | 2:17 PM

Feel free to put me in a clown nose around New Year’s Day With the early ’00s teams, the defense was good enough to bail out the offense if they had a bad day For the last 10 years or so, the offense is good enough to bail out the defense if they got lit up And right now I wouldn’t trust either side of the ball to go on a coffee run, much less save a game Posted by Matthew Rewinski on Sep 26, 2018 | 2:31 PM

I’m thinking a 10-6 finish. Too many holes popping up, which I don’t think this team has the talent level to fill as seamlessly as past teams were able to do. I’m thinking this season more closely mirrors the 2001 team. They’ll be mediocre until the weather changes and that’s when they’ll find their stride. Expecting a deep playoff run with this team given the state of those already on IR is unfair. If they make the AFCCG, they will have overachieved. Anything more than that, it will take some “tuck rule” level luck on their side. Posted by jambu2525 on Sep 26, 2018 | 2:28 PM

9-7/10-6ish. Similar to the 2009 team that lost to the Raisins in the Wild Card at home. The defense doesn’t have playmakers. Posted by TheHandsTeam on Sep 26, 2018 | 2:38 PM

I still think the Pats are in the driver’s seat for the AFC East title, current record notwithstanding. But even if we’re not, when I look at the AFC through the first 3 weeks (which is a fool’s errand, sure, but that’s all we’ve played so far!) these are the only AFC teams I see who could even be in a hypothetical argument about beating us out for the playoffs, in no particular order: Dolphins Bengals (maybe) Ravens (maybe) Jaguars Titans (maybe) Chiefs Broncos So, really, even if the Dolphins win the division, we have to be better than TWO of them and we’re in the playoffs, and that doesn’t account for the fact that I think only one of the Ravens and Bengals make the playoffs, period; the wild card isn’t coming from the AFC North. As for #2: I won’t pretend I’m not nervous at the moment with the way the team has looked the last two weeks. No doubt about it. But the reality is that we’ve seen year after year that a team can get hot in the playoffs and go further than anyone expected, and we still have Brady and BB and Gronk and enough weapons to potentially win a shootout at that point, so while I’d love to have HFA throughout the playoffs I’m not convinced we couldn’t win out even if we have to go on the road. It’s not like the Pats can’t use underdog motivation to reach another level when it counts; we’ve seen it time and time again over Brady’s career. Posted by BUTerrier on Sep 26, 2018 | 2:42 PM

9-7 wild card spot Posted by jchen on Sep 26, 2018 | 2:54 PM

I’ll make some predictions! - As much as I love him right now, there is a strong sentiment in me screaming “Josh Gordon will not be on this team by seasons end”, and I hope I am wrong. - The defense will level out to be middle of the road, which will lead to -The offense having its least stellar showing in recent memory That said, the Patriots will go 11-5, make the playoffs, and get bounced before the AFC championship game. This is me being pessimistic, I could fully accept everything I say here to go wrong, and I can’t wait to be! Posted by brownta04 on Sep 26, 2018 | 2:55 PM

My prediction for this season was 12-4. Nothing to really back that up. It was just a feeling. I thought worst case scenario to start the year was 2-2. Best case was 3-1. I thought for sure we would lose at least 1 game. Then the next 2-3 losses (depending on the record of our first 4 games) would be spread out the rest of the year. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. Oh, not at the offense. And I’m not panicking about the defense yet. I’m sure we’ll find a way to get the most out of what we have, and the playcalling will be improved and more diverse. I feel like we can coach up the miscommunication on our defense... think at worst we win 10 games, and squeak into the wildcard. I think we are still the best team in the division, despite the illusion of Miami’s 3-0 record. And even if they beat us, I don’t think they are good enough over the course of the season as we are, and ultimately we will be on top of the division either way. So am I worried? No. For now, while my fan-brain is only curiously gazing over the edge of madness, my more objective side is telling me that no matter what happens next week, we are still going to the playoffs, and that we will not look as bad as this month may seem. Posted by Jack’sAxe on Sep 26, 2018 | 3:16 PM

I predict that our final record will be either 11-5 or 12-4. I see the Patriots winning the division and making it to the AFC Championship game, but ultimately falling short of another SB run. I originally had them pinned as a loss in the AFCDivisional Round, but think they’ll somehow find a way to pull through on Brady’s magic and keep the hopes alive for another week before putting up a stinker in the AFCCG. I do however want to mention that the road for the playoffs will not be as easy as it has been in previous years. They’ll really have to work for it and will definitely squeak by a few close games. I also think that the Josh Gordon 2018 experiment won’t be Moss-esque, but will end on a good note giving fans and the Patriots some hope of his long-term future with the team moving forward. Posted by PAT_Terrific on Sep 26, 2018 | 3:22 PM

I predicted a narrow win over JAX, and an easy win over Detroit. I’m going to say 9-7, because I’ll jinx the team if I project any record higher than that. Posted by DumpTruck617 on Sep 26, 2018 | 3:43 PM

They get their act together in the next two weeks and start turning things around. I think the offense starts to find its rhythm on Sunday and I think either the Pats win or lose in a shootout and at least make the game competitive (unlike the last two games) and then gets into a groove. The defense is a work-in-progress at best but I think they wind up getting things together by November. That means the offense will have to bail them out of more than one game until then, and even at that I think they drop a game in October (either KC or Chicago) because of the D. I’m OK with a KC blowout because the last couple of times that happened we won the Super Bowl. 11 – 5 and division champs provided they beat the Dolphins on Sunday. 10 – 6 and a wildcard if they don’t. Posted by TDDsDad on Sep 26, 2018 | 3:43 PM

My prediction is this team goes 10-6. Wins the AFC East and finishes 3rd in the AFC. I think they will beat the Wild Card team, but lose in the Divisional Round. I think the offense will end up in the top 10, and the defense will end up in the bottom 5. Belichick will trade away a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick for a cost controlled coverage linebacker, and Rivers will overtake Adrian Clayborn by the end of the year. I also think Belichick will trade away Malcom Brown for a cost controlled asset and/or pick, as Guy does everything he does, and currently better. Posted by jcorye1 on Sep 26, 2018 | 4:15 PM

As my signature and recent rows in various other comments sections indicate, I predict a top 10 scoring defense this year I also predict we finish in the top 5 in scoring offense. We are about to go on a tear, and probably drop the Pittsburgh game and one of the late season divisional games, and that’s it. Final record prediction: 12-4. Posted by Dan Bauer on Sep 26, 2018 | 4:16 PM

We fail to secure a bye for the 1st time in 9 years (the streak had to end sometime) Still make the playoffs but exit like the 2009 team which causes every Pats fan under legal drinking age to have a complete melt down. Extra prediction for offseason / next year: Brady does NOT retire. No way he goes out on a down year. However we begin a complete defensive rebuild which involves moving Jules back to CB (sadly I’m only half joking). Posted by sanfranpatsfan on Sep 26, 2018 | 4:42 PM

Welcome to The End Pats go 7-9 and don’t get to the playoffs. This is the last season Brady & Gronk play. So soak it up boys & girls! SB 52 broke the team. Buying into “The Patriot Way” is supposed to put the team & winning above individual glory. When Coach Belichick benched Butler for what seemed to be personal reasons, it was clear that he wasn’t putting the team’s success above whatever personal vendetta he might have had with Butler. They still lost the game when the greatest QB to ever walk onto a football field had the best performance of his career and couldn’t get it done. This year is different from all the other years with slow starts because there’s no fire in the team. They really don’t care. The personnel issues aside, there’s no emotion or energy coming out of them. Edelman will come back and will be productive for 2-3 games then will get hurt again. Josh Gordon will get on a roll and will crush it and look like the next Randy Moss then will relapse & get hit with the banhammer. The breakdown: Houston – W @ Jax – L @ Det – L Miami – L Indy – W KC – L @ Chic – W @ Buff – L Green Bay – W @ Tenn – L BYE @ Jets – L Minn – W @ Miami – L @ Pitt – W Buff – L Jets – W Posted by marcusxh on Sep 26, 2018 | 4:45 PM

8-8 and no play off I’m In the camp of belichick selling out the team by benching butler in the superbowl having huge impact on team chemistry, also defense is pathetic. Posted by patriotrain on Sep 26, 2018 | 5:02 PM

I see 11-5 And things start turning around this week against the Dolphins. Josh Gordon plays this week and does so-so. But he improves exponentially by week 6. JE11 returns, opens up the offense dramatically thus giving the defense more time on the sideline and chance to play well. Things tighten up as the defense starts to play better together. Once again, we go to the AFCG……and we’ll be hoping for another Superbowl appearance (don’t want to predict that one) Posted by Lala’s Da on Sep 26, 2018 | 7:30 PM

Team will be torn down to the nails end of season That’s my for sure prediction. Making a prediction for this season doesn’t matter because the longer term will be addressed even if this team makes the playoffs rounds. BB and McD are paid too much money for Kraft to allow this to continue. Kraft family five year business plans are built on durable success of the team and I believe they realize this team can’t deliver. The business side of things can’t support this team. So everyone will be on the chopping block. Coaching, scouting all will be changed. Posted by portmike on Sep 26, 2018 | 7:33 PM

I’ll take 10 wins or less 10 wins seems like the ceiling for this roster. People are saying, yeah but what if everything goes perfectly, then we’ll be fine. Maybe, but what if our 41 year old QB gets hurt? What if our brittle HOF TE gets hurt? Then suddenly, we’re talking about 7-8 wins tops...I say that 2018 is a bad year in NE. If Brady and Gronk come back for 2019, and that is a huge if, then we might have one last shot at a Super Bowl. The end will come eventually, and so far, 2018 seems more like it than any year so far. Posted by Mex_17 on Sep 26, 2018 | 8:00 PM

Here is my take - Patriots will find a way to hit double digit wins. I would not say a first round bye (that’s probably slightly worse odds than a coin flip ATM) even though the only team in the AFC that looks scary so far is the Chiefs. I think Patriots win the division with a record around 11-5 (though I could see 10-6 or 12-4 being in play) and host at least one home playoff game. They advance to the AFC championship game, where they are beaten by either the Chiefs of the Jaguars. That what I think happens. Posted by Zero D30 on Sep 26, 2018 | 8:41 PM

Winter is here. This year’s team is poorly constructed and now injuries are starting to pile up. Sorry fans, but this is going to be a rough year. 8-8 should be considered a success at this point. The offense may improve, but I just don’t see the defense getting better. Posted by PatsAreBigInJapan on Sep 26, 2018 | 10:47 PM

Belichick either trades some significant 2019 draft capital for speed and tacking at LB, or we watch the same game plan against NE 13 more weeks and Pats finish no better than 10-6. Posted by showmeonsunday on Sep 26, 2018 | 11:56 PM

11-5 or 10-6 Play in wild card round. Start upsetting teams in the playoffs. I like the Patriots being the underdog again. Posted by SparzWizard on Sep 26, 2018 | 10:53 PM

In 2018 the Patriots pay the price for 3 years of ineffective drafting and replacing only 1 of 5 valuable players who left in free agency or were traded. Their record will be 9-7, Dolphins win the division at 10-6. Patriots win their wild-card game, lose in next round Posted by TRoberts77 on Sep 30, 2018 | 11:50 AM

I realize that it’s a pretty douchey move to post this article on the first day back to work after the holiday break; I mean why not pour some lemon juice on that cut while I’m at it? But the New Year is all about starting fresh and turning over a new leaf, and maybe this will be the motivation that some of you need to never doubt the Patriots, no matter how bad they look early.