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Game-by-game predictions for the entire Patriots 2023 schedule

The 2023 Patriots schedule is here and as is tradition, we’ve done our best to pick each game.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Somewhat predictably, this year’s annual Taylor-Swift-scavenger-hunt of clues about the NFL schedule release for the New England Patriots on Thursday ended up being a clarification-fest on the leak of the rumor about when we would see Tom Brady in Gillette Stadium not wearing another team’s jersey:

And because we’ve all been subjected to what feels like a decade straight of opening the season against the Miami Dolphins, finding out that the first Miami matchup of the year wasn’t in Week 1 brings to mind perhaps the only funny joke in Christmas With the Kranks, when Tim Allen decides it’s time to get frisky with the Mrs. and Jamie Lee Curtis’ character goes, “What are you doing? It’s not even Saturday night!”

That being said, there’s lots of other things we can’t just pencil in this year, either. You may have heard a few people talking about this, but the 2023 AFC East appears well on their way to being what everyone thought the AFC West would be in 2022 (no comments from the peanut gallery on who the Patriots equate to in that analogy). There’s no reason to run down every last name that the other three teams in the division added between February and May, because you’ve surely heard them all at this point, but suffice to say, every division matchup is looking a hell of a lot more early-2000s-ish than it has in a long time.

So let’s get into it. No disclaimers about “predicting games in May is a fool’s errand,” “nobody even knows who’s going to be on the final roster,” none of that. Take your Buzz Killington attitude somewhere else if that’s what you think. This is supposed to be fun, right?

Let’s see what the 2023 Pats look like on paper, and then in September, that’s why they play the games, and why we obsess over this game so much.

Week 1 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Prediction: Patriots lose

I don’t really need to explain this one, do I? This is perhaps the only team in the entire league that legitimately can go punch-for-punch with the Super Bowl Champ Kansas City Chiefs, and you can’t say with a straight face that if that game went one more quarter, the Eagles wouldn’t be hoisting their (barf) second Super Bowl trophy in six seasons. Even if Bill O’Brien succeeds in turning the Patriots offense into a spread-and-shred machine, the Eagles still pack one of the most unique offensive schemes in football that can mash you into the ground one drive and see Jalen Hurts dial up a throw that should have the NFL Blitz flames graphic behind it to any one of his pass-catchers that are a house-call threat every down.

Factor in the Patriots’ classic “still the preseason” start under Bill Belichick, and, yeah. This one will be a prophecy of hope if the Patriots can keep it within double digits.

Sunday, Sept. 10, 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS

Week 2 vs. Miami Dolphins

Prediction: Patriots lose

Hey, do you remember who the Dolphins took in the first round of the draft this year? Me neither.

Oh right, they didn’t have one, because they spent years (plural) trying to steal the GOAT quarterback that used them for target practice biannually while he was still very much under contract with both the Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We all make mistakes.

Jokes aside, the Mike McDaniel-led Dolphins have proven that they’re not to be taken lightly when they have an even halfway decent quarterback pulling the levers of the Shana-Bro offense that McDaniels imported from the 49ers. Last year’s season opener may be weighing a bit too heavy in this prediction, but in what you’ll notice as a recurring theme throughout the rest of these, until the 2023 Patriots prove that they can put points on the board in bunches, it’s hard to bet on them to win a shootout.

Sunday, Sept. 17, 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC

Week 3 at New York Jets

Prediction: Patriots win

Ballsy? Perhaps. Or maybe just betting on the 2023 New York Jets not exactly being a well-oiled offensive machine three weeks into the season with a new quarterback who’s famously fussy about who he actually trusts to catch an out route?

Not to make this all about Aaron Rodgers, but... it kind of is? The Jets spent all offseason tailor-making the offensive roster to GM Rodgers’ liking, and they even brought in former Broncos head coach Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to do... whatever an offensive coordinator does when everyone knows Aaron is going to do what he wants no matter what play comes in on the headset. It certainly could work, it just seems like between Bill Belichick and friends successfully holding the Packers to a pedestrian 251 passing yards, two touchdowns, an interception, and of course, taking them to overtime last year, nobody in New England’s shaking in their boots about this one just yet.

Sunday, Sept. 24, 1 p.m. ET | CBS

Week 4 at Dallas Cowboys

Prediction: Patriots lose

OK, yeah, starting 1-3, not ideal. Even pessimistic, some might say. But sometimes it’s as simple as, “Who’s really, REALLY good at scoring points?”, and the Dallas Cowboys finished behind only the Chiefs, Eagles, and Bills in offensive points per game in 2022. As good as the Patriots defense figures to be in 2023 — which is to say, quite possibly even better than they were in 2022, when they ranked third in Football Outsiders’ DVOA — expecting them to contain one of the league’s elite offenses and asking Mac Jones and the boys on offense to play one of those games where the last team with the ball wins is a REAL tough ask.

Sunday, Oct. 1, 4:25 p.m. ET | FOX

Week 5 vs. New Orleans Saints

Prediction: Patriots win

One pattern I try to avoid falling into when we do this every year is to just make every week’s prediction into a rundown of, “Well, the _____ added (dude/dude/other dude) on offense, lost this guy, and then on defense they (same type of list)”. Every time someone does it in a blog, on a podcast, on Good Morning Football, whatever, it’s like... we can read an offseason moves list, guys. Not exactly groundbreaking insight here.

Anyway, it’s important that we disentangle the Saints of yore that could hang a billion points on you with ease in the Sean Payton heyday from the present day, where it’s entirely unclear whether the Saints are actually capable of stringing together enough wins to finish at .500 or not. There’s tons of names you recognize from fantasy — Derek Carr, Alvin Kamara, Cam Jordan, Demario Davis — but as far as racking up Ws, this team’s exactly the kind of team the Patriots should be able to beat with tight defense and, not to set the bar TOO high here, but, a league-average offense.

Sunday, Oct. 18 1 p.m. ET | CBS

Week 6 at Las Vegas Raiders

Prediction: Patriots win

No Josh McDaniels jokes necessary. The Raiders finished second-to-dead-ass-last in defensive DVOA last season, behind only Da Bears, and while they did sign the best available receiver in free agency, that receiver is, of course, old friend Jakobi Meyers. There is no reason the Patriots shouldn’t be able to scheme it up and have these guys in a blender by the fourth quarter.

Sunday, Oct. 15, 4:05 p.m. ET | CBS

Week 7 vs. Buffalo Bills

Prediction: Patriots lose

Another rule we live by when we make these predictions every year is if you get skunked by a division rival in both games the year before, barring something like Josh Allen getting abducted by aliens, they get the benefit of a doubt in the 2023 rematch. Honesty is painful sometimes, and for as many improvements as the Patriots made in all three phases of the game this offseason, they have to show that they can hang with Buffalo before we can even go into a Bills game and expect a legit battle.

Sunday, Oct. 22, 1 p.m. ET | CBS

Week 8 at Miami Dolphins

Prediction: Patriots win

A win AT Miami? On Halloween weekend, nonetheless??

The assumption here is offensive growth. The Patriots almost certainly won’t be a destroyer of worlds on offense by this point in the season (or any point in the season, probably, or arguably ever, as they’re currently constructed), but at almost the halfway mark of the season, if it’s even a halfway decent system that Bill O’Brien is installing, all the precedent in the world tells us that the offense should be clicking at a much higher level than it was in Week 2. What ended up being so throw-your-controller frustrating about the 2022 offense under you-know-who is the consistent lack of improvement, or even learning from our mistakes. The solution was always, “just execute better”, and never, “Maybe we shouldn’t be running 4 Verts when the offensive line doesn’t even really know their own checks?” or, “This next screen isn’t going to be the one that breaks big, buddy”.

Sunday, Oct. 29, 1 p.m. ET | CBS

Week 9 vs. Washington Commanders

Prediction: Patriots win

Commanders don’t get the benefit of a doubt. Moving on...

Sunday, Nov. 5, 1 p.m. ET | FOX

Week 10 vs. Indianapolis Colts

Prediction: Patriots win

Even teams like the Colts that have proven they’re willing to tank before don’t end up picking in the top-4 of the draft by accident. Unless Anthony Richardson turns out to be the Lamar Jackson/Cam Newton/Donavan McNabb spiritual successor that was promised, this team is going nowhere fast, and this game is one of the few that even the 2022 Patriots could turn into a defensive rock fight and still probably win 9 times out of 10.

Sunday, Nov. 12, 9:30 a.m. ET | NFL Network/TBD | Frankfurt, Germany

Week 11 Bye!

Despite their 1-3 start, the Patriots roll into the bye at a cushy 6-4. Better make that week of R&R after the trip overseas count, because there’s no rest for the wicked after that.

Week 12 at New York Giants

Prediction: Patriots lose

This one stings, sure. It’s also probably one of the starkest contrasts to how the last couple Patriots seasons have gone that Brian Daboll — a former Patriots position coach, of course — has proven he can not only harness the powers of a budding BAMF like Josh Allen, but he can also take a quarterback with a *cough* limited skill set and still make some pretty good chicken salad out of it.

At the very least, this figures to be one of those games that’s extremely annoying for the Patriots on defense, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the G-Men find a way to win an ugly game that’s basically December football.

Sunday, Nov. 26, 1 p.m. ET | FOX

Week 13 vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Prediction: Patriots win

The Chargers aren’t cursed. They’re just supremely gifted at finding a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory year after year, no matter how supernaturally talented and brilliant their quarterback is. There’s simply no reason to fear this team until they can get out of their own way. If Justin Herbert ends up chucking up bombs to Quintin Johnston, who turns out to be the player N’Keal Harry was supposed to be? Great. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Sunday, Dec. 3, 1 p.m. ET | CBS

Week 14 at Pittsburgh Steelers

Prediction: Patriots win

Pittsburgh’s gonna Pittsburgh. Even though we don’t get the luxury of facing Mitch Trubisky at quarterback this season, a Mac Jones vs. Kenny Pickett duel is... well, it’s on Thursday night. You can probably guess why.

Thursday, Dec. 7, 8:15 p.m. ET | Prime Video

Week 15 vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Prediction: Patriots lose

I’m sorry it has to be this way. Bill Belichick has proven he can game-plan for Patrick Mahomes as well as any man in the galaxy, but outside of this year finally being the season Travis Kelce hits the wall or some other such seismic development, the Chiefs are probably going to be Super Bowl favorites all year for a reason. Again.

Monday, Dec. 18, 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN

Week 16 at Denver Broncos

Prediction: Patriots win

Fresh off a (probable) thrashing at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots wake up straight into another nightmare from years past: Mile High Stadium. The upshot is they’re playing a Broncos team that finished dead-ass last in offensive points per game last year, WITH Russell Wilson, who they are currently still stuck with, and an offensive skill group that would make just about any quarterback drool.

Even if Sean Payton can get a few espresso shots into this offense, is the best-case... league-average? Similar to where the Patriots are at, really? If the Broncos actually pull this off, we’ll have no choice but to tip our caps. But when you’re coming off a full-blown face plant that may well echo for years into the future, this is what happens.

Sunday, Dec. 24, 8:15 p.m. ET | NFL Network

Week 17 at Buffalo Bills

Prediction: Patriots lose

See all the reasons we detailed in Week 7, then factor in that the Bills are almost certainly going to be gunning for the No. 1 seed in what figures to be a completely stacked AFC at this point. Yeah. Not much else to say about that.

Sunday, Dec. 31, 1 p.m. ET | CBS

Week 18 vs. New York Jets

Prediction: Patriots win

Unless either the Patriots or the Jets prove to be a shocking anomaly in 2023, this could well be both teams gunning for what figures to be a coveted AFC wild card spot. And in that situation, you can make all the jokes you want about the Patriots being, well, a joke now, but the Jets have yet to prove they can handle any kind of adversity or challenge at all, much less the kind that comes with Super Bowl or Bust expectations.

So, if this is the classic “If you had to win one game” situation... give me the coach who’s outcoached Robert Saleh four out of four times that the two have faced off.

Saturday, Jan. 6 or Sunday, Jan. 7, TBD | TBD

So that puts the New England Patriots finishing the 2023 season with a regular season record of... let me double-check my math here... 10-7. Is there a little luck baked in there? Sure. Is there a little luck baked into every team’s season, even the top dogs? Absolutely. That’s why we still watch the games!

Agree? Disagree? Think the Pats have what it takes to make noise after New Year’s? Let us know in the comments.