2016 IS HERE! LET’S GO!!!!!
Ever since that damn 2 point conversion, we’ve been waiting for this day. The Pats are back, and that void in our lives has been filled.
Let’s be honest, though. We’re a little nervous about the 2016 season, at least compared to previous years. With the team that New England has this year, the Pats should have an automatic top 2 seed before the season even starts. They started out 10-0 last year, earned the #2 seed, and would have had homefield advantage throughout had it not been for injuries and a dumb decision to lay down in Week 17. Their only real loss from the team was Chandler Jones, and Jabaal Sheard, Chris Long, and co. should be able to serve as decent enough replacements for the synthetic pothead.
But this year doesn’t look too good out of the gate. Brady is out for 4 games, and Gronk is out at least tonight. My gut tells me that Gronk will miss at least 2 more games, because it wasn’t like it was a gametime decision for him not to play today, as we heard the news yesterday. That makes a Week 2 comeback unlikely, and week 3 is on a Thursday night after a short week.
As far as Brady’s B.S. suspension goes, I think there’s a higher potential for disaster in Garoppolo’s first 4 starts than most Pats fans do, especially without Gronk. Pats fans point to the fact that the team’s next 3 games after tonight’s are all at home, but they conveniently overlook the fact that the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans, and Bills collectively make up a fearsome foursome of defensive lines. Both before and after the severity of Gronk’s hamstring injury came to light, I thought that a 2-2 record through the first 4 was most likely. Before Gronk’s injury, I thought that 3-1 was more probable than 1-3. Now, though, 1-3 feels more likely than 3-1.
A 1-3 start would be rough for the Patriots, but not because it would put their playoff chances in doubt. After all, I’m the guy who just wrote that it’s insane that the Pats are only -350 to make the postseason.
What should worry you, though, is the Pats’ seed in the playoffs. They’ve never made a Super Bowl without having a 1st round bye. They could easily make the Big Game from a 3 or 4 seed, but Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and especially Denver, as I wrote last year, represent very difficult places to play in January.
Still though, New England is the most likely AFC team to earn the top seed and make the Super Bowl. Denver’s defense simply can’t repeat itself from last year, as elite defense is more volative year to year. They also lost Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan.
Kansas City is going to be a tough, ballsy team this year, and I’m glad that the Pats don’t face them in the regular season. But I just can’t bet on an Alex Smith team to beat a Tom Brady team to the top seed. And let’s stop the “If Pittsburgh can get healthy” talk. Ben Roethlisberger is always prone to missing a few games, Maurkice Pouncey is always prone to missing the whole season, and Le’Veon Bell is out for at least 3 games and maybe more if the injury big hits him again.
The Pats may stumble out of the gate thanks to Roger Goodell’s sliminess and the NFLPA allowing the NFL to run their lives during the last CBA, but this season might wind up being the opposite of 2015: Start out slow, go on a run when Brady and Gronk are both back, and be healthy late in the year rather than early in the year. If the Pats can earn the top seed or even the 2 seed after missing Brady for 4 games and Gronk for a few to start the season, everyone will be talking about how they’re the best team heading into the playoffs.
What else is new?
Garoppolo goes 2-2, but the Pats have a point differential of -15 in those 4 games, leading everyone to worry if something is truly wrong with the Pats. Brady and Gronk come back and right the ship, and the Pats have decent injury luck throughout the rest of the year. They finish 12-4 and earn the top seed because the AFC doesn’t have many elite teams. They’ll make the Super Bowl and face the Packers in a Brady-Rodgers showdown, and ultimately Brady will come out on top.
It’s not biased if they truly are the best team. Can you honestly tell me anyone else is better? God, it’s good to live in New England.