The sting that the NFL ran against Tom Brady and the Patriots has left us with this: Brady gone for four games, and the Patriots forced to start Jimmy Garoppolo in his career debut versus Arizona Sunday night.
That game is probably the toughest of the games that Brady will miss, but its no easy schedule for New England until Week 5.
The Patriots have to go to Arizona, but is then home for the Dolphins, Texans, and Bills. Home field is great, but thats a harder schedule than people think!
I (spoiler alert) have Houston winning the AFC South, think Buffalo is going to be a frisky team for someone like New England to struggle with, and think Miami is going to improve greatly.
So, the Patriots are going 0-4 and Tom Brady’s gonna have to throw like 50 touchdowns in 11 games to get New England to the playoffs.
But it’d be fun to think about.
An 0-4 Pats start leaves the AFC East wide open for a team like Buffalo. My book on them is a poorly coached team with a slowly declining defense. But, Tyrod Taylor is awesome and LeSean McCoy only needs to hurt his foot OR pull his hamstring this year, not both.
(Since I’ve written the friskiest teams column I’m much less excited about Buffalo. They’re still frisky, but chances are they’re a fun 6-10 team)
(In fact, this column was going to be titled “What If Buffalo Wins The AFC East?” until I started looking at this team a lot closer)
Anyways, the Patriots should have no trouble with Buffalo. This isn’t a scary defense by any means. The only thing holding back New England from a win would be Jimmy G himself.
Houston is a different story. Houston has a stingy defense with almost no holes. With the Patriots lacking a consistent running back (Thats not a shot. I know Bill Belichick will make it work. But imagine LeGarrette Blount of James White on a different! Yikes!), running againist this defensive line is gonna be a rough time. Garoppolo is gonna have to throw for New England to get out of that game with a win.
The case for Miami to win in Week 3 is simple, but unlikely.
Every great team has a team they always have trouble with. It happens in every sport. For New England, its always Miami. Now, these struggles usually occur in Florida, but with a young and raw quarterback in Garappolo, the likelihood of those struggles occurring go up.
While 0-4 probably won’t happen, I’d expect this Patriots team to struggle these first four weeks. I think if New England goes 3-1 in this stretch its a miracle. These teams they’re up against aren’t great, but they definitely aren’t bad. 2-2 is probably more likely, with 1-3 or 0-4 being a disappointment.
No matter what the win-loss record is, its certain that when Tom Brady returns, no one is gonna wanna deal with the Patriots. Assuming the suspension doesn’t put Brady in a funk, New England should be seen not only as the division favorite, but the AFC team with the best odds to go to the Super Bowl.