With the Patriots set to kick off the 2014 football season on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, the Boston.com Staff and Contributors submitted their picks for how New England’s season will go. Let us all know how wrong or right we got it in the comments, or in the magical world of Twitter.
Jeremy Gottlieb, BDC Staff Patriots Record: 13-3 Playoffs?: Win the Super Bowl (beat Seahawks) The Skinny: Stating that a football team’s chances depend on health is as obvious as Jerry Jones’s facelift(s), but cliche or not, it’s tough to avoid that assessment when it comes to the Pats. The fact that they were able to advance all the way to the AFC Championship last year without their three top defensive players, their best offensive player not named Tom Brady and a depleted receiving corps was pretty remarkable. Provided most everyone is feeling OK come January, there’s little reason to believe the Pats won’t win their fourth Super Bowl. Super Bowl Prediction: New England over Seattle League MVP: Peyton Manning (a mortal lock unless he catches malaria or something)
Tony Massarotti, BDC ContributorPatriots record: 13-3 Playoffs?: Yes (lose in the Super Bowl) The Skinny: Patriots have the most balanced team they have had in a long time and are due for some good breaks. They look like the class of the AFC. Beating the NFC will be another matter. Super Bowl: Seattle over New England. League MVP: Aaron Rodgers.
Erik Frenz, BDC ContributorPatriots record: 12-4 Playoffs?: Yes, lose in Super Bowl The Skinny: How good are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? They took the Patriots to the AFC Championship Game while they were nearly the only two recognizable names left on the field. The Patriots, essentially, get three waves of additions in free-agent signings, draft picks, and the handful of players returning from injury. Barring a meltdown or a major injury, the New England Patriots will be AFC East champions and in the playoffs for the sixth straight year and the 10th in the past 11 years. Super Bowl: New Orleans over New England League MVP: Drew Brees
Steve Silva, BDC Staff Patriots record: 12-4 Playoffs?: Patriots win AFC Championship over Colts at Gillette. Lose Super Bowl to Packers. The Skinny: The sun comes up, the sun goes down, and the Patriots cruise to another AFC East title, dropping only four games to the Bears, Broncos, Colts, and Packers on their way to the big game in Arizona. And yes, Gronk plays the entire season. And Danny Amendola almost makes everyone forget about Wes Welker this time around. Super Bowl: Green Bay over New England, 31-28 League MVP: Andrew Luck
Gary Dzen, BDC StaffPatriots record: 13-3 Playoffs?: Yes. Lose AFC Championship The Skinny: The defense will be better with Darrelle Revis, and Rob Gronkowski completely changes the offense. Shane Vereen will have a monster year, and Julian Edelman should be very solid once again. All of these things are true, but winning NFL football games is hard, especially in the playoffs. Denver’s offense is still too explosive, and the league is trying its damnedest to keep it that way. Super Bowl: Denver over New Orleans League MVP: Drew Brees
Adam Kaufman, BDC ColumnistPatriots record: 13-3 Playoffs?: Yes. Lose in the Super Bowl. The Skinny: It’s great Rob Gronkowski projects to be in the lineup for the regular season opener in Miami. That way Tom Brady can rely a little less on Julian Edelman and, well, not at all on Danny Amendola. As we all know, the offense will be a health-dependent crap-shoot this year. This Pats team will have to be defined by its defense. Here’s hoping the new rules don’t hinder the impact of Darrelle Revis or, ya know, completely neutralize Brandon Browner. Super Bowl: Seattle over New England in a game that totals no more than 35 points. League MVP: Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay)
Bill Speros (OBF), BDC ContributorPatriots record: 13-3 Playoffs?: Yes. Impossible for them NOT to win the AFC East, then onto winning the Super Bowl. The Skinny: No guarantees once they get back to Glendale, but Belichick will have extra security guards and video cameras on hand to make sure David Tyree is nowhere to be found. Super Bowl: New England over Green Bay, 31-28. League MVP: Drew Brees. Throws for 9,381 yards and 62 TDs as defending against the pass is banned by Roger Goodell in Week 6.
Chris Rattey, BDC “Interim’’ Sports EditorPatriots Record: 16-0 Playoffs?: All the way, baby … including an AFC Championship win over Peyton Manning. The Skinny: They were actually going to give me the editor’s job until they saw this prediction. Then they were like … wait a second, this guy is off the rails. Let’s make him interim. But here’s how I see it. It’s like the Red Sox breaking the curse in 2004. In order to break free of the hex, something miraculous had to happen. And it did. For the Patriots to get back to Lombardi Trophy glory, it needs to be in unbelievable fashion to exorcise the 2007 demons. You know you want to say the same thing. Just do it. And feel good about it Super Bowl: New England over Seattle League MVP: Tom Brady
Chad Finn, BDC ColumnistPatriots Record: 13-3 Playoffs?: Yes. Tom Brady could take a personal bye week every other Sunday and they’d still clinch the AFC East in mid-December. The Skinny: No, don’t call it the Brandon Browner Bowl. This one is a showdown of the greatest coach in Patriots history and his predecessor, Pete Carroll, who needed time, distance and no salary cap at Southern Cal in order to find his own impressive coaching legacy. Super Bowl: New England over Seattle, 30-27. The elusive fourth Super Bowl victory comes by the same margin as the first three. League MVP: Peyton Manning. His sixth time winning the award. It also puts his MVP/Super Bowl victory ratio at 6/1. But who’s counting?
Eric Wilbur, BDC ColumnistPatriots record: 13-3 Playoffs?: Duh. Barring a catastrophic injury to Tom Brady, or if Bill Belichick ultimately reveals himself to be Marty Schottenheimer in guise, the Pats will go to the playoffs for a sixth straight season. The Skinny: Brady aims to win his fourth career Super Bowl – matching boyhood idol Joe Montana – against the team he grew up rooting for. Super Bowl: San Francisco over New England, 17-14. Niners linebacker Aldon Smith rushes past Patriots guard Sebastian Vollmer on New England’s final possession of the game, forcing Brady to rush a pass to Julian Edelman. The ball pops out of the receiver’s hands and somewhere in Florida, Logan Mankins shakes his head. League MVP: Peyton Manning. Every time he’s won the award, he’s won it in consecutive seasons. (’03-’04, ’08-’09). Why should 2013-14 be any different?
Zuri Berry, BDC StaffPatriots record: 13-3 Playoffs?: Hell yeah. The Skinny: The bottom line is, the AFC East is still bacon bits for Bill Belichick and company with the division’s porous competition boosting the team’s regular season record. (Say hello to their sixth straight division title.) But that shouldn’t take away from what is going to be a stacked schedule, filled with every single AFC playoff team in addition to the Green Bay Packers. There is a real possibility the Patriots could lose five games. But they could also run the table and and finish with only two losses . Add in solid pieces like Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Tim Wright, and this team is Super Bowl or bust. Super Bowl: New England over San Francisco League MVP: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Jeff Pini, BDC Staff Patriots record: 13-3 Playoffs?: Without question. The Skinny: After the infamous “push’’ game last season, Rex Ryan tries to get the Pats called for an illegal “pull’’ against the Jets, but the refs don’t buy it. Pats go undefeated in the division to roll to yet another AFC East title and first-round bye. Super Bowl: New England over Seattle, 23-20 Tied 20-20 late in the fourth quarter, Darrelle Revis comes up with a key interception as the Seahawks drive in Patriots territory, and Tom Brady marches the Pats down the field, finishing with Stephen Gostkowski having his own “Vinatieri’’ moment to give Brady that elusive fourth ring. League MVP: Jamaal Charles. Runs over everything in Kansas City, but the Chiefs finish with a Wild Card spot again and fall in the first round.