September is here and we’ve entered a wonderful time of year, the beginning of regular season football in the NFL.
While summer is sadly coming to a close, no one is going to miss the stale narrative of “Deflategate” that’s enveloped the football community since last season.
The Patriots are getting back on the gridiron Thursday night to open the 2015 season. The Super Bowl banner will drop, which will undoubtedly create an electric atmosphere at Gillette Stadium. No more Organized Team Activities, training camp or preseason; now it’s back to business as the team eyes another championship run.
Here’s a game-by-game prediction for the upcoming year. —
Week One: Sept. 10 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.
The Steelers walk into a hostile environment as the Patriots begin their title defense. A lot of changes for both teams, but Tom Brady will not be denied in week one. The absences of RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Martinis Bryant and center Maurkice Pouncey will prove to be too much to overcome for Pittsburgh.
Win – Patriots 27, Steelers 17
Week Two: Sept. 20 at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
New England comes off a strong week one performance only to stumble against the Bills in Orchard Park. The offense will likely sputter early in the year and the team seems to always have a head-scratching loss to start the year. Rex Ryan’s defense comes to play and capitalizes on a few costly turnovers.
Loss – Bills 23, Patriots 20
Week Three: Sept. 27 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Coming off a tough loss the Patriots take out their frustrations against the Jaguars at home. The offense steps up and head into the bye week on a high note.
Win – Patriots 34, Jaguars 16
Week Four: Bye week
Week Five: Oct. 11 at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
An extra week to prepare gives New England an edge from the start in this game. The Cowboys have thrown their hat into the ring as contenders, but still have some questions on defense. The difference in this contest will likely be the ability to score touchdowns or settle for field goals and the Patriots tight ends take over.
Win – Patriots 31, Cowboys 20
Week Six: Oct. 18 at Indianapolis Colts, 8:30 p.m.
This will be one of the biggest — if not the biggest — games throughout the entire regular season. So much emotion from both sides. The Colts have been trying to “get over the hump” and really make a statement that they’re capable of representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. The Patriots come up short in a shoot-out, with the Indianapolis fans out in full force. Setting up a potential playoff re-match later in the year.
Loss – Colts 34, Patriots 3o
Week Seven: Oct. 25 vs. New York Jets, 1 p.m.
The two team’s square off for the first time in 2015. After a tough two week road stretch for the Patriots, they return home and will likely have wide receiver Brandon LaFell back in the mix for the first time this season. New York’s defense will challenge, but New England will make more plays in the end.
Win – Patriots 27, Jets 17
Week Eight: Oct. 29 vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:30 p.m.
Another divisional match-up as the Dolphins look to make a run at the AFC East crown. A big year ahead for Miami’s quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He has progressed every year and has the weapons to succeed, but this must be his best season in order for the Dolphins to make a real playoff push. It should be close, but still not sold Miami is legit.
Win – Patriots 24, Dolphins 20
Week Nine: Nov. 8 vs. Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Third straight home game for the Patriots. This week facing perhaps the most dysfunctional organization in the NFL. The Robert Griffen III saga makes the team look like a daytime soap opera. A lot of questions for Washington and they don’t make it a competitive contest.
Win – Patriots 35, Redskins 17
Week 10: Nov. 15 at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m.
The Giants look to rebound in 2015 and host the Pats after New York’s two week road stretch. The Patriots appear to be the better team, but could stumble after a three-game winning streak. Should be a very competitive game that goes to the final minutes.
Loss – Giants 23, Patriots 20
Week 11: Nov. 23 vs. Buffalo Bills, 8:30 p.m.
Buffalo came away with an upset early in the year, but the Patriots return home trying to get back on track. In this primetime divisional showdown, New England shows why they’re still in the driver’s seat for yet another AFC East title.
Win – Patriots 27, Bills 17
Week 12: Nov. 29 at Denver Broncos, 8:30 p.m.
The Broncos have undergone some major changes this off-season, but still should be one of the top team’s in the AFC this year. That, of course, is dependent on Peyton Manning at this stage of his career after a rocky 2014 campaign. This time around, however, the Broncos get the edge in Mile High.
Loss – Broncos 31, Patriots 23
Week 13: Dec. 6 vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 4:25 p.m.
This contest has the makings for an offensive explosion. Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense could give the Patriots defense a very tough test. Given New England’s December track record and at home, the Patriots take hold in the second half.
Win – Patriots 34, Eagles 27
Week 14: Dec. 13 at Houston Texans, 4:25 p.m.
Former Patriots Offensive Coordinator, Bill O’Brien, hosts the Patriots with Vince Wilfork on his side this time. While Houston could be competitive this season, not sure they have enough to compete with the elite NFL teams. The Patriots take an early lead and don’t look back.
Win – Patriots 28, Texans 13
Week 15: Dec. 20 vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
The Titans have to hope rookie QB Marcus Mariota plays at a high-level early, because the roster around him is average at best. With Tennessee projected to finish towards the bottom of the league, expect the Patriots to roll easily.
Win – Patriots 41, Titans 16
Week 16: Dec. 27 at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
New England looks to continue their strong run and jockey for playoff seeding while the Jets most likely are long out of the picture. New York will play tough, but won’t have enough in the tank to get the job done.
Win – Patriots 31, Jets 23
Week 17: Jan. 3 at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
New England avoids playing at Miami early in the year and hopes to finish the regular season with some strong momentum behind them. This contest could be intriguing if Miami is in the mix for the playoffs. With the Patriots hoping for a top seed in the post-season and the Dolphins trying to grab a wildcard spot, this goes deep into the fourth quarter.
Win – Patriots 27, Dolphins 24
Final Record: 12-4
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