Sitting at 5-4, can the Patriots reach their projected win total and make the playoffs?

The Patriots' projected win total was 8.5 wins entering the season.

Mac Jones and the Patriots have a tough road ahead of them.

After a 1-3 start to the season, the Patriots rebounded in recent weeks to enter their bye week at 5-4 as the NFL season reaches the midway mark.

While their play has swung to the extremes through much of the first nine games, the Patriots’ record actually reflects slightly better than the projected mark that oddsmakers gave them entering the season. The majority of sports books listed the Patriots’ win total at 8.5 entering the year, down from the 10-7 record they had in 2021.

However, New England’s toughest stretch of the season awaits them, especially after a pair of its scheduled opponents got off to better than expected starts. The Patriots host the 6-3 Jets, who are also on their bye this week, in Week 11 before taking on the 7-1 Vikings on Thanksgiving night.


The Patriots’ schedule remains tough the rest of the way. They face the Bills twice and host the defending AFC champion Bengals plus the 6-3 Dolphins. Even road matchups against the disappointing Cardinals and Raiders could be tough with those games taking place in back-to-back weeks, likely forcing New England to stay out in the Vegas-area for the week prior to the second game.

All those factors put together and the Patriots have one of the toughest, if not the toughest, schedules remaining. In terms of winning percentage, the Patriots’ remaining opponents have the second-best in the league (.603 combined).

The Athletic’s Austin Mock calculated how tough the rest of the schedule is for each team using several different variables, resulting in the Patriots’ remaining schedule being the toughest in the league. Mock found that the Patriots’ remaining opponents would win 54.3 percent of their games against a league-average opponent. 

Now, the Patriots could get some injury breaks along the way. On their own end, it appears center David Andrews will return for the Week 11 game against the Jets after missing the prior two games due to a concussion. He practiced in New England’s lone session during the bye week. Running back Damien Harris missed the Patriots’ Week 9 game against the Colts due to an illness while wide receiver DeVante Parker and defensive tackle Christian Barmore’s knee injuries are reportedly short-term injuries, making it possible they return right after the bye, too.


A few of the Patriots’ upcoming opponents are dealing with some injuries, too though. The Jets lost offensive line Alijah Vera-Tucker and running back Breece Hall for the season in the week prior to facing the Patriots in Week 8. Their absences loomed large as the Patriots’ defense constantly got pressure on Zach Wilson, who threw three interceptions in that game.

The Raiders placed a pair of notable offensive players on injured reserve this week in Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. By rule, both players will be forced to miss the next four games but it’s cutting it close to their matchup with the Patriots in Week 15.

Then there’s Josh Allen. The Bills superstar quarterback suffered an injury to his right elbow at the end of their Week 9 loss to the Jets when his arm was placed in an awkward motion as he tried to throw the ball. He’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Vikings after missing a pair of practices, but the injury is reportedly one that he’ll likely have to deal with in the upcoming weeks. The Patriots host the Bills in Week 13.

With all of that considered, can the Patriots make the playoffs? Well, they’ll likely have to play better than they have in recent weeks as they’re set to face tougher opponents, especially on offense. New England’s scored just two offensive touchdowns over its last two games, with one of them coming after a blocked punt set the unit up at the 2-yard line.


Mac Jones’s sophomore slump has been the storyline for the Patriots’ offensive woes. He’s thrown for 1,140 yards, four touchdowns, and seven interceptions, giving him a 76 passer rating that’s among the league’s worst. The upcoming schedule offers Jones a mixed bag of opportunities. While they have four games against teams that rank in the top 10 in pass-defense DVOA (Bills 5th; Jets 7th; Bengals 8th), the Patriots also go up against the two worst teams in pass-defense DVOA (Dolphins 31st; Raiders 32nd).

It’s a similar story for the Patriots’ defense. New England’s play on that side of the ball has been stellar over the last two weeks, but it’ll face some tougher opponents along the way. The Patriots’ defense, which ranks fifth in overall DVOA, will also have four games against teams that are in the top 10 in overall offensive DVOA (Dolphins 2nd; Bills 6th; Bengals 9th).

Entering Week 10, the Patriots hold the AFC No. 8 seed, leaving them just one spot out of the playoffs. Of the nine teams in the AFC with winning records, the Patriots will play four of them and have five remaining games against them.

Luckily for New England, two of its top challengers for wild-card spots at the moment in the Bengals and Chargers have the second and third toughest schedules left, respectively, per The Athletic.

But as they hold +145 odds to make the playoffs (per DraftKings Sportsbook), there’s no denying that the Patriots have a tough hill to climb and they must play better in order for them to make the playoffs.


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