The 2020 season was the Patriots’ first with out Tom Brady because the crew’s major starter since he performed in only one sport within the 2008 season earlier than struggling a torn ACL. Fittingly, it additionally grew to become the primary time that the crew missed the playoffs since that season. The Cam Newton-led Patriots posted a 7-9 record which was, extremely, the crew’s first dropping season since Bill Belichick’s squad posted a 5-11 record through the 2000 marketing campaign.
Now in 2021, the Patriots will look to recapture the magic that shaped one of the longest dynasties in NFL historical past. The crew was aggressive in free company this offseason and introduced in numerous veterans so as to add depth and expertise to their squad. Then, they made a giant transfer in choosing Alabama QB Mac Jones within the first spherical of the ’21 NFL Draft, marking the primary time that they had chosen a quarterback within the first spherical since they spent the No. 1 general choose on Drew Bledsoe again in 1993.
The Patriots might look very totally different in ’21, however so does the remaining of the AFC East. Once the NFL’s weakest division, the Bills have became a threatening crew below Sean McDermott whereas the Dolphins are on the rise below Brian Flores. As for the Jets, they’ve a brand new coach and a rookie quarterback, so if Robert Saleh and Zach Wilson develop into the true deal, the Patriots’ divisional video games may show to be more durable than they have been in fairly a while.
Also on the docket this 12 months for the Patriots are opponents from the AFC South and NFC South. That’ll imply matchups with some lowly groups just like the Texans, however they may even face some intriguing quarterbacks, chief amongst them rookie wunderkind Trevor Lawrence and previous good friend and G.O.A.T. Tom Brady.
Here is an entire breakdown of the Patriots’ 2021 schedule, together with dates, begin times and evaluation for all 17 video games.
Patriots schedule 2021
The Patriots’ schedule might be introduced as half of the NFL’s schedule launch on Wednesday, May 12 at 8 p.m. ET. These are the groups that they’re scheduled to play through the 2021 NFL season.
|Buffalo Bills||Atlanta Falcons|
|Cleveland Browns||Buffalo Bills|
|Dallas Cowboys||Carolina Panthers|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Houston Texans|
|Miami Dolphins||Los Angeles Chargers|
|New Orleans Saints||Indianapolis Colts|
|New York Jets||Miami Dolphins|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||New York Jets|
Last 12 months, the Patriots may by no means get fairly get on monitor as a result of of a gradual begin to the season. They started the 12 months 2-1 and practically beat the Seahawks in an offensive shootout, however after Newton was sidelined as a result of a constructive COVID check in Week 4, they fell off. The Patriots would go on to lose their subsequent 4 consecutive video games, and whereas they ultimately bought again to .500 on the three-quarter pole of the season, one other three-game dropping streak ended their probabilities of competing for a playoff spot.
Perhaps a bit extra explosiveness on offense together with COVID-related opt-outs returning to the crew in 2021 will give the Patriots an opportunity to carry out at a extra secure degree. At the very least, they need to be higher on each side of the ball and can be capable of marry strong offensive play with upper-level defensive play. They lacked offense final 12 months when their unit completed twenty seventh within the league in complete yardage and scoring.
One advantage of the Patriots’ 2021 schedule is that they are taking part in simply two highway video games towards groups that made the playoffs final season. They have 5 such opponents at house, however they need to have a greater likelihood of rattling some of their warmer-weather and dome-based competitors within the chillier Foxboro.
Patriots strength of schedule
Based on final 12 months’s information, the Patriots’ strength of schedule within the upcoming season ranks center of the pack at nineteenth general (0.489). However, groups can change big-time year-to-year, and it is price noting that some of the worst groups on their schedule must be higher in 2021.
The Cowboys will not be as unhealthy with Dak Prescott again from a leg harm and a few defensive upgrades. Trevor Lawrence might be quarterbacking the Jaguars as a substitute of Gardner Minshew. And, of course, the brand new regime with the Jets may make their crew a bit stronger than they had been final season.
So, whereas the Patriots’ schedule might look simpler than common on paper, it has an opportunity to be tougher than some might anticipate.
Toughest Tests: One of the most important video games on the schedule for the Patriots might be their date with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. That sport is at Gillette Stadium, however it will likely be an emotional revenge sport for each Brady and Belichick. The Bucs are elite, so the Patriots have to have their QB scenario discovered earlier than that sport rolls round.
Facing the Bills twice might be no simple activity both, particularly since they spent their first two draft picks upgrading their go rush to assist their already-strong protection. New England’s house schedule is hard basically, so the Patriots will hope to recreate a pleasant home-field benefit this 12 months or get fortunate with some cold-weather sport towards warm-weather groups.
Biggest Breaks: The Texans are one of the laughingstocks of the NFL proper now, and Deshaun Watson won’t be accessible. The Patriots have had their quantity prior to now, so they need to be capable of take care of the Texans this 12 months. Meanwhile, the Jaguars’ offense might be higher with Lawrence at quarterback, however their protection continues to be a serious work in progress whereas Urban Meyer may have time to get Jacksonville adjusted to his system. And he too may have a while to regulate to the NFL.
There might be two different groups to look at with new quarterbacks: the Jets and the Saints. The Patriots have a greater roster than the Jets, so they need to be capable of deal with them until Wilson turns into a big-time playmaker early in his profession. As for the post-Drew Brees Saints, that crew is pretty skinny and might be utilizing both Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill at QB. These video games aren’t simple, per se, but when the brand new QBs for every crew battle, the matchups may flip into strong benefits for the Patriots.
Bottom Line: It’s onerous to like the Patriots’ schedule this season simply because there are such a lot of questions on not solely the groups they’re going through however in regards to the Patriots themselves. Will Newton or Jones begin at quarterback? Do they’ve sufficient large receivers to make a distinction towards groups that cowl tight ends nicely? Those might be necessary inquiries to reply.
The excellent news is that the crew is going through three of final 12 months’s worst run defenses (Texans, Cowboys, and Jaguars), so even when the Patriots have QB questions, they need to be capable of run to victory on a number of events. And regardless of a troublesome schedule and depleted roster final 12 months, the crew nonetheless managed to publish a 7-9 record due to sturdy teaching.
Expect the Patriots to hover across the .500 mark. Will they end equally to final 12 months, just under the mark, or with their additions, will Belichick take them to a successful record? More possible, we’ll see the latter — we’ll give Belichick the profit of the doubt.
But will the Patriots be a playoff crew? It’s too near name.
Record Prediction: 10-7