The New England Patriots had an active offseason, which has made them into a potential postseason team. They made a shocking move this past week when they released Cam Newton, making rookie Mac Jones the starting quarterback. The Patriots are primed to have a good season with their new-look roster.
In free agency, the Patriots went out and improved their offensive and defensive units. They brought in tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith as well as linebacker Matt Judon. These new players and many more should make an immediate impact on the Patriots.
While those moves were great, they also drafted Jones as the 15th overall pick. He is an NFL-ready quarterback coming out of Alabama who is bound to have a great rookie campaign.
Here are four bold predictions for the Patriots in the 2021 NFL season.
4. Damien Harris has a breakout season
Harris is primed to have a breakout season, especially with Sony Michel being traded to the Los Angeles Rams. This leaves Harris as the main back behind a solid offensive line. He had a solid 2020 campaign in the 10 games he played in.
Harris had 137 rushing attempts for 691 yards and two touchdowns. Although the Patriots’ offense struggled last year, it looks to be revitalized, which will benefit Harris. They should be heavy in the run game as well as running play action. He should improve his game with new weapons around him in the Patriots offense.
Harris has great potential and should have a great season as the feature running back.
3. The Patriots have a top 5 defense
Many people have forgotten how great a coach Bill Belichick is. He is especially great at having top-tier defenses. The Patriots have a plethora of defensive talent and should be a top-five defensive unit.
They have a great combination of players in the secondary, linebackers, and the defensive line. The Patriots have a ton of young talent that should translate into top defense.
They have a dynamic secondary with Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, and Jonathan Jones at cornerback. The Patriots are reportedly still open to trading Gilmore, but the crew is elite even without him. Bringing in Judon will be key in the Patriots getting more sacks this season. Last season with the Baltimore Ravens, Judon had six sacks and 21 quarterback hits. He was selected to his second straight Pro Bowl and proved his defensive value.
Look for the Patriots to have a top-five defense with the combination of Belichick’s coaching and the elite defensive talent.
2. Mac Jones throws 25 touchdowns
Jones had a phenomenal 2020 college campaign, which placed him in the top three in the Heisman Trophy voting. Jones threw for 4,500 yards on a 77.4 completion percentage. He also threw 41 touchdowns to only four interceptions. He should explode onto the scene this year.
He is a very efficient quarterback, which shows in his low turnover numbers. Jones showed the ability to step up when needed the most during his time at Alabama. His all-around game should translate well to the NFL level.
With recently acquired new targets, Jones has everything he needs to have a successful season. Rookie quarterbacks often struggle early on, but Jones has the capability to be good on day one. Look for him to have an impressive rookie campaign and throw for 25 plus touchdowns.
1. The Patriots make the NFL Playoffs
While it’s not expected, the Patriots have a great shot at making the NFL playoffs. They have a very underrated roster that is good offensively and defensively. If a few young players have a breakout season, the Patriots will be hard for any team to beat.
They are in a competitive division and conference, but they are ready to meet the challenge. The toughest threats in the division will be the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. Last season, the Bills went 13-3 and made the AFC Championship Game while the Dolphins went 10-6, narrowly missing the postseason. Although the division will be tough, the Patriots have the talent to match up.
The Patriots could see other contenders in the AFC like the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Tennesse Titans, Indianapolis Colts, and Baltimore Ravens. The AFC is loaded with talented teams that will be tough for the Patriots to deal with. But with a strong overall group, the Patriots should be able to compete with them.
The defense should be the team’s focal point, but the improved offense will help them get to an elite level. Look for the Patriots to have their first NFL Playoffs appearance since losing Tom Brady.