16. New England Patriots (finished 8)
What I said at the end of last season:
"The New England Patriots always turn it on in December and January and make everyone who doubted them look like fools. However, I will dare to say that this feels different right now. Tom Brady is really struggling and has had his numbers propped up by screen passes and receivers getting YAC. The Patriots have lose 3 of their last 5 games and have only averaged 22 points in their last six games. Defensively, the Patriots are always the a great unit but even standout players like Stephon Gilmore have struggled a little bit in past weeks. I am not going to put the Patriots any lower than this, but this doesn’t feel like the same terrifying Patriots team that we have seen before."
Even before the opt-outs, I had serious concerns about the Patriots and with the opt-outs, I feel like the one strength of their team is gone.
Their offensive line is a mess, the skill positions are lacking, the defensive front lost its “quarterback” with Donta Hightower’s decision, Stephon Gilmore is great but he can’t cover every blemish.
Cam Newton may have to go out and play for his life like he did so many times in Carolina, and while I think that Bill Belichick and Cam might be able to do some fun things, on paper this roster is 5-11 propped up by an elite coach and a quarterback who might be able to get back to the level he was for most of his career.
That is a recipe for a boom or bust season.