While the summer season brings much enjoyment to the average person, for an NFL fan, it represents a desolate wasteland where Sundays just aren't quite as vibrant as in the autumn months. However, with each passing day, we inch closer to the beginning of the 2023 NFL season, which officially kicks off on September 8 this year.
Whether you've had your favorite team's tweet notifications turned on all summer or if you've decided to tune out all football news entirely, you'll be able to learn everything you need to know about your team going into the 2022-23 season right here.
In today's article, I'll be discussing the New England Patriots.
I'm working on season guidebooks for all 32 NFL teams, which will all be released within the next few weeks. To check out another team's guidebook, click here:
2021 Season Recap
The Patriots didn't make a ton of headlines in 2021 and were far from the flashiest team in the league, but as Bill Belichick's teams do, they just kept finding ways to win. New England started slow but went on a seven game win streak in the middle of the season, highlighted by a 14-10 win in a snowstorm in Buffalo where Mac Jones attempted only three passes all game.
The Patriots were near the top in several team statistics, allowing the second fewest points per game throughout the year. The Patriots were able to make it to the postseason, though they were routed by the Bills in the wild card round.
Significant Roster Moves
Bill Belichick is known for letting solid starters walk to save money for the team, regardless of how much they've done for the organization in their careers. As a result of this attitude, you'll see a lot of big names in the "Losses" column from this offseason. Brandon Bolden, Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower, J.C. Jackson, Shaq Mason, and Kyle Van Noy were all big producers that will no longer be there in 2022.
However, New England is good at replacing lost talent with young, cheaper alternatives. DeVante Parker will be the best receiver that the organization has obtained since they had Antonio Brown for one game, and he will be a huge target for Mac Jones this year. Malcolm Butler returns to New England, along with Terrance Mitchell and Jabrill Peppers to bolster the secondary. Mack Wilson will also add more depth to the linebacker position.
2022 Draft Class
New England had ten selections in this year's draft and added multiple offensive linemen, cornerbacks, and running backs. They also took quarterback Bailey Zappe out of Western Kentucky in the fourth round. With how good Bill Belichick is at scouting quarterbacks, that is an intriguing selection to say the least.
The Patriots will take on the AFC North and the NFC North to go along with their six divisional games. Their other three opponents are the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, and Las Vegas Raiders. With an opponent prior season win percentage of .498, New England has the 16th hardest schedule in the NFL.
New England's primetime games include two Thursday night games at Minnesota (on Thanksgiving) and versus Buffalo, one Sunday night game at Las Vegas, and two Monday night games versus Chicago and at Arizona.
The Patriots return 17 of 22 offensive and defensive starters from a season ago. The roster looks pretty strong going into the season and Mac Jones has gotten in better physical shape in the offseason as he prepares to take the next step in his second year. Rhamondre Stevenson is expected by some to be the next breakout running back in New England's ground game, and the defense will surely be stout again in 2022.
Bill Belichick enters his 23rd season as head coach of the Patriots and enters 2022 without naming an offensive or defensive coordinator, for which he will ultimately take responsibility. Cameron Achord enters his third season as special teams coordinator for the Pats.
Oddsmakers have set the regular season win total for New England at 8.5 games. As of right now, the Patriots are the third most likely team to win the AFC East, but only the 12th most likely team to win the AFC. At +5000 to win the 2023 Super Bowl, they are 21st among all teams in the league.
Bucket Squad Predictions
I hate picking against the Patriots, because they are always good as long as Bill Belichick is in control, but even though I think the team should be better than it was in 2021, I don't see New England making the playoffs again this time around. With my projected 9-8 record, I think the Patriots end up just missing out on the postseason. However, the fate of their season could ultimately be decided by just a few big plays here and there in some of their games. I won't be astonished by any means if the Pats do find their way into the playoffs again.
What do you think? Will New England be better or worse than I'm projecting? What offseason moves made by the Patriots surprised you the most? Leave a comment down below and be sure to check the "NFL" section of the website for more NFL team guidebooks as I finish them.
Written by Nick Swatson
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Expert Nick Swatson discusses all the news, predictions, and outcomes surrounding the NFL.