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Predicting every game on the 2022 New England Patriots schedule

Related: 2022 Patriots schedule finalized: New England set for five primetime games, including Thanksgiving with Vikings

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Remember the first day of summer vacation? When you were old enough to actually count down the days until school was out for a couple glorious months, and you weren’t quite old enough to have a job yet, so that meant two straight months of no homework and getting into whatever trouble you could find with the neighborhood kids and live the Calvin and Hobbes lifestyle?

And then the first day after school gets out, your dad is like “once you finish taking out the trash, feeding the dog, and fold your laundry, you can clean the grill”.

That’s the feeling of the NFL schedule dropping, right after free agency and the draft when everybody is full of hope and optimism and general good vibes, and.......we open the season against the damn Dolphins, in Miami, again. Because of course we do. Why wouldn’t we.

Be that as it may, you may have heard a few takes this offseason that the AFC would appear to be all-guns infinite-ammo this year, and in 2022 the New England Patriots have the pleasure of not only squaring off against their own AFC East, but also an AFC North division where the Pittsburgh Steelers of all teams have at least a decent case for being the worst team in the division, and the Steelers haven’t had a losing season since Tom Brady had but a wee two Super Bowls to his name. It’s going to be intense.

Oh, and if you’ve ever played one of those video games where you face a boss fight pretty much immediately after you figure out “OK, this button is ‘shoot’”, after the first three games of the season, the Patriots get the pleasure of road-tripping out to Wisconsin for a showdown with the undisputed champion of hypothetical championships himself, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

(if you’ve ever gotten into it with a Packers fan, you know exactly what hypotheticals I’m talking about. If Rodgers only had Bill Belichick, if the Packers would only draft Rodgers some WEAPONZ, if the Packers would actually get some cornerbacks, if only that one tight end didn’t blow an onside kick, the list goes on and on, Aaron Rodgers would have 15 Super Bowls. All we can do is laugh.)

All that is to say, you can be sure we’re fully into a brave new world of Patriots football when we have every reason to be hyped for Mac Jones’ second-year leap at quarterback, some much-needed firepower at wide receiver and an apparent philosophy shift of sorts on defense.....and if we’re being real about it, which is what we try to do here, even a .500 season may be a coin flip. You’ll see once we start tallying these Ws and Ls up.

Speaking of which, let’s do this. We’re predicting wins and losses only, not final scores or anything like that, and we’ll try to throw in a brief explanation of each game’s best guess. Just enjoy the game while we’re waiting all day for the Celtics Game 6 tonight.

Week 1: at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 pm, September 11th

Prediction: Patriots lose.

Look, this could be as simple as “if you think you can beat ‘em, go out there and prove it”. The Patriots found a way to lose to the Dolphins in Week 1 last year, and if my math is right, they found about 15 ways to lose to the Dolphins in Week 18 in a game with potentially massive playoff seeding implications. And while Miami’s optimism about Tua-to-Tyreek bombs may be a tad higher than the other 49 states....

.....new Miami head coach Mike McDaniel comes in as a disciple of arguably the most successful offensive scheme in the last decade of football that it seems like half the league has adopted now, and that’s reason enough to take them seriously.

Plus, like we said, New England should be able to hold their own, but given recent history, it’s put up or shut up for the Patriots in this matchup.

Moving on!

Week 2: at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 pm, September 18th

Prediction: Patriots win

This one’s as simple as the quarterback matchup. The AFC’s in a weird place right now where it almost seems like more teams have superstar quarterbacks or young guns that they’re excited about than don’t, and the Steelers, for the first time since Batman Begins came out, do not. Well, they might, but as of right now, it’d appear that one of the following is true, and you can be the judge of which is actually worse for the Steelers:

  1. Rookie QB Kenny Pickett vs. Bill Belichick in Kenny’s either first or second career start, or
  2. Mitch Trubisky

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Week 3: vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 pm, September 25th

Prediction: Patriots lose

Ironically, if there is a reason for optimism for this game against one of their most hated rivals, it’s that the Patriots’ offseason approach of “build the whole plane out of safeties” and apparent moves away from requiring every linebacker to weigh in UFC-style at 250+ pounds may bode for a faster team that can hang with QBs with elite wheels like Lamar Jackson more effectively than years past. Having said THAT, though, the 2022 Ravens appear to be built almost exactly what the last couple Patriots teams wished they could be — heavy on both lines of scrimmage, running multiple tight end sets, and generally preferring brutality over finesse.

Also, did we mention that they have Lamar?

Week 4: at Green Bay Packers, 4:25 pm, October 2nd

Prediction: Patriots lose

This is pretty much the inverse of the Steelers situation we just talked about. Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers, and the Patriots should probably write a movie titled “How to lose all your good man coverage corners in six months.” Respectfully, even with Davante Adams deciding he’d rather move on than stay in Green Bay, Rodgers can probably still carve this defense up playing his Turkey Bowl style of ball without breaking much of a sweat. And barring Mac Jones turning into one of his most pie-in-the-sky draft comps of Drew Brees, the Patriots offense doesn’t exactly look like they’re in a position to go blow-for-blow with any Rodgers offense, even if Rodgers is throwing to 4 dudes from the rec league at the Y.

Week 5: vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 pm, October 9th

Prediction: Patriots win

Back in the win column! The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Detroit Lions, who DraftKings Sportsbook has ballparked at six wins for 2022. For all the great draft acquisitions the Lions made and all the positive culture that they seem to have developed, the 2021 Lions were a case study in finding new ways to get your ass handed to you, and that doesn’t get cured overnight. Especially when your quarterback probably still sees Bill Belichick in his nightmares from a certain Super Bowl you might remember.

Week 6: at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 pm, October 16th

Prediction: Patriots lose assuming Deshaun Watson actually plays

Pretty self-explanatory. It’s nice to have last season to use as a benchmark, and fortunately for the New England Patriots, that benchmark versus the Baker Mayfield-led Browns was a 45-7 shellacking that would’ve had most Madden bros rage-quitting by the third quarter.

If Deshaun Watson somehow avoids getting suspended and gets to play against New England after having a month to knock the rust off?

Yeah, you can see where that’s probably going, and it’s not in the Patriots’ favor.

Week 7: vs. Chicago Bears, 8:15 pm, October 24th

Prediction: Patriots win

Monday Night Football!

You think the Patriots are lacking some firepower at wide receiver?

Talk to the Bears fan in your life. Poor Justin Fields is throwing to what might be charitably described as “looking at the fantasy waiver wire in Week 12 when half the league is on bye.”

Chicago also dealt away star edge defender Khalil Mack, cut or traded almost everyone you remember from that defense that was pretty good a couple years ago, and saying they’re tearing this thing down to the studs might be underselling it.

Week 8: at New York Jets, 1:00 pm, October 30th

Prediction: Patriots win

Remember what we said earlier about how we’ll believe a team can do something they’ve consistently faceplanted at doing when they actually go out and do it?

We’re sticking with that principle here. It’ll rear its head again when we get to the Bills games. Fair is fair.

Week 9: vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1:00 pm, November 6th

Prediction: Patriots win

Like the Browns, this game also has a 2021 reference point, except that 2021 game in Indy was one of the most bizarre games of the Patriots’ 2021 campaign. Coming off a seven-game win streak and a well-earned bye, the Patriots proceeded to play 60 minutes of sloppy-ass football and found a way to lose by double digits in the end.

However!

The Colts did precious little to upgrade their roster at all this offseason at any position except quarterback, unless you consider second-round WR Alec Pierce or the acquisition of DE Yannick Ngakoue to be a game-breaking force. If the Patriots don’t come out like hungover freshman this time, New England should have the firepower on both sides of the ball to pay Indy back for last year’s punking.

Week 10: Bye Week

Enjoy the Sunday off. Go play outside.

Week 11: vs. New York Jets, 1:00 pm, November 20th

Prediction: Patriots win

You can copy/paste the last Jets game entry here. I know we’re getting a little heavy-handed with the wins here, but unless/until the Jets prove that they can take all those last couple cool drafts and actually make some good football out of it, they’re still the Jets.

Week 12: at Minnesota Vikings, 8:20 pm, November 24th

Prediction: Patriots win

Turkey Day game! Assuming you actually manage to stay awake for the Thanksgiving nightcap game, you’ll get to see Patriots Legend and new Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell try to defeat the man who drafted him in his first year as coach of a Minnesota team that, in its current iteration, is useful for fantasy points and fantasy points only. One can reasonably assume that after a couple years as the offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams — although famously, he didn’t call plays — O’Connell will bring at least some of that McVay/Shanahan new-hotness offense to the Vikings with him.

That’s all fine, but Bill Belichick certainly found a way to bamboozle perpetual underachiever Kirk Cousins the last couple times they’ve faced off, so the Patriots still get the nod here. Plus, if we get another “Shut the f--k up, Thielen!”, everybody wins.

Week 13: vs. Buffalo Bills, 8:15 pm, December 1st

Prediction: Patriots lose

This probably doesn’t require too much of an explanation in the same sense that many of the Patriots-Bills games of the last 15 years didn’t require much of an explanation either.

Week 14: at Arizona Cardinals, 8:15 pm, December 12th

Prediction: Patriots win

If my math is right, this is precisely the point in the season where the Kliff Kingsbury/Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals have exploded out of the gate laying waste to all who stand in their way to start the season, then they’ll drop a couple that’ll make you think “huh, that’s kind of weird, they probably should’ve had that one in the bag”, and then full-blown “....they know that these games still count, right?” collapse.

Sorry Cardinals. With all due respect, we wouldn’t say it about you if it wasn’t true.

Week 15: at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:20 pm, December 18th

Prediction: Patriots lose

This will probably be a contentious one, and it’s one of, if not the hardest games on here to pick. That being said, it’s hard not to be scared or at least have a healthy combo of respect and fear for new Raider Davante Adams, who’s proven year after year that he could get open even if the Monstars were quadruple-teaming him. And while Derek Carr’s certainly no Aaron Rodgers, in contrast to some of his previous campaigns, 2021 Derek Carr had the fourth-highest Intended Air Yards in the entire NFL, not to mention the fifth-most passing yards. Whatever you thought of Derek Carr before, the man no longer fears slinging it downfield, and he may have actually found out that he enjoys it.

Forget Josh McDaniel’s last rodeo (no pun intended) as a head coach. He’s had a decade to learn from his mistakes, and for all the third-and-seven screen calls and runs up the gut that drove us all insane, McDaniels is still an elite play-caller that’ll know more or less exactly what Bill and the Patriots will throw at him.

Hopefully I’m wrong on this one. Obviously, though, I don’t think I am.

Week 16: vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 pm, December 24th

Prediction: Patriots lose

I’ve heard more than a few spicy takes this offseason that not only will the Bengals regress in 2022, they may miss the playoffs entirely. And, respectfully, that seems kind of preposterous given that they appear to have poured some serious resources into fixing their two most glaring problems — offensive line and their defensive backs — via free agency and the draft, respectively. We all know and love swing interior lineman Ted Karras around here, but the Bengals also shelled out money for maybe the first time in franchise history to upgrade with OT La’el Collins and Bucs guard Alex Cappa. Solid work. And spending your first and second-round draft picks on highly-touted DB prospects pretty much says it all, as far as knowing “yeah, that’s gotta be better”.

Put simply, this Bengals team should have enough offensive firepower to bury almost any team in the league if they’re firing on all cylinders, and with the investments they made on the offensive line, they may not even have to put Joe Burrow in a Boba Fett bacta tank after every game to do it.

Week 17: vs. Miami Dolphins, 1:00 pm, January 1st

Prediction: Patriots win

We’re going to break our own rule here and call this one a W, almost entirely because this game requires the Dolphins to come up to Gillette Stadium in January this time. December and January football weather may be just what the doctor ordered to get the bad juju of the last, um, several Dolphins games off our backs.

Week 18: at Buffalo Bills, January 7th or 8th (date and time TBD)

Prediction: Patriots lose

See above. This is the current Super Bowl betting favorite for a reason. Well, a lot of reasons, all of which we in New England are acutely aware of after 3 games last year, and the Patriots probably won’t exactly be able to bank on prime Buffalo weather to level the playing field this time.


So there we have it. 9-8. Sound off in the comments and let us know whether you think the New England Patriots are going undefeated, 0-17, or anywhere in between.