Different year same result for the New England Patriots in 2016. Tom Brady may miss the first four games but the Patriots have their eyes set on the Super Bowl regardless and they believe Jimmy Garoppolo will hold serve until Brady returns. Some people see a downfall for the Patriots…
— First Take (@FirstTake) July 28, 2016
I, on the other hand, see a motivated Patriots team that will survive a difficult four-game stretch to start the season and will catch fire as the season goes on. The Patriots face the Cardinals, Dolphins, Bills, and Texans to start off the season. All of those defenses will put pressure on Garoppolo and the young quarterback will have to get off to a quick start. I see the Patriots finishing 2-2 and surviving the early stretch of games. New England added Martellus Bennett to the team to help compliment Rob Gronkowski in that two tight end offense that the Patriots have loved to run. Brady also has received help in the wide receiver core with Chris Hogan joining the team. Hogan joins Amendola and Edelman as the do-it-all type receiver that Brady loves to quick snap and dump it off to.
In 2015, the Patriots had the #6 total offense in the NFL with 5,991 total yards of offense. The Patriots were also ranked as a top 10 defense in 2015 with the #9 total defense in the league. The Jets have a good defense and Marshall plus Decker was a great combination in 2015. However, New York showed their weakness towards the end of the season and that is the fact that Fitzpatrick is not a franchise quarterback. Fitzpatrick turned the ball over more frequently and could not sustain the same drives they were sustaining earlier in the season. Despite adding Matt Forte, I think the Jets still need to groom a young quarterback to be the franchise guy because Fitzpatrick has always run out of gas in his career. I see the Bills as more trouble for the Patriots in 2016 than the Jets but once again the Bills will not put together a consistent offense to compliment that defense. Rex Ryan has built a great team in Buffalo and his defense can bring the hammer so I am not worried about that side of the ball. I am worried about the offense and seeing how Tyrod Taylor improves in year two as quarterback of the Bills. Taylor really took off in 2015 and brought an unpredictable factor to the Bills. On the outside, Sammy Watkins is no joke and can be a difference maker in that division, however, until I see it with my own eyes that they properly use him I will not believe in the Bills as a division champ. I do, on the other hand, see Buffalo as a wild card contender.
Back to the Patriots, in 2016 I think the Patriots will finish as a top 2 team in the AFC and will most likely play in the AFC title game. Their opponent, in my opinion, will most likely be the Pittsburgh Steelers. There is an outside shot the Texans have their offense match their defense and they make a run or the Colts protect Luck and he takes his talent to the next level. Pittsburgh, however, is too talented on offense to mess around with so I think they face off with the Pats.