Yes, you read the headline correctly, I believe the New England Patriots are going to beat the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and start the regular season with a 1-0 record. I believe it so strongly, I’m writing a whole article about it.
You might think I’m crazy, but I’m actually surprised more people don’t feel this way. There are compelling arguments to be made for the Patriots in Week 1, after all.
Defensive speed: The Patriots may have lost J.C. Jackson, which, of course, is a big departure, but they added a bunch of young, athletic players on the defensive side of the ball. Last year, when their defense came apart at the end of the year, it was because they just simply couldn’t keep up with the speed of their opponents. That won’t be as much of a problem this year. They will get back Raekwon McMillan and Jonathan Jones, who were hurt last year, and also added Mack Wilson, Jabrill Peppers, Marcus and Jack Jones.
They also will trust Anfernee Jennings on the edge, which might lead to Josh Uche be more of a situational pass rusher again — something he is pretty good at. Throw in the fact that Christian Barmore is going to be better this year, and you have a totally fresh Matthew Judon, and this defense is going to be fun to watch. Sure, there are questions about the group, but it addressed its biggest flaw and got faster. I think it’s going to pay dividends as early as Sunday.
Mac Jones: The Patriots’ QB1 looks like a new man this year. He’s slimmed down, and he appears to have a little more zip on his passes. When he had to tuck the ball and run in the preseason, he actually looked decently fast, and made a few nice off-platform throws. I think he’s going to be much better this year than he was last year, and he was the best rookie QB last year.
With an improved Mac, and more weapons around him, the Patriots are going to surprise some people — starting with Miami. Last year, he ran out of steam down the stretch; the Dolphins will get him at his freshest.
The offense is better: The offense has looked terrible all summer, how could you possibly say it’s gotten better? Because it has, obviously. It lost Shaq Mason and Ted Karras, but added Cole Strange and DeVante Parker. Jonnu Smith is going to be a factor in the offense this year, Nelson Agholor as well, and Rhamondre Stevenson is going to be making the Year 2 jump.
I know there are questions about the play-calling and the offensive line, but the fact is that the overall talent is better on the offensive side of the ball. They are going to be just fine.
Bill Belichick: While the media continues to question the Patriots’ head coach, it seems that he is enjoying himself more than ever. Yes, he’s 70, but he still brings the energy to practice. Most importantly, he is still the best coach in NFL history, and having him on the sidelines, especially against a man coaching in his first ever game, definitely gives the Patriots an edge. The question of whether they will have a huge coaching advantage isn’t sure, of course, but I do believe that Bill Belichick versus Mike McDaniel isn’t really that close.
There you have it! I don’t know anything more than anyone else, but I am choosing to see the positive in the unknowns where most fans, and almost all media members, are choosing to see mostly negative.
Only time will tell if I’m right, but the Patriots have come through countless times when everyone has counted them out. I expect Sunday to be no different.