By: Jake Mackey
The notorious Las Vegas betting book Bovada has set the New England Patriots win total for 2016 at 10.5, after the Patriots have won over ten games the past six seasons. On the surface, the notion of the Patriots losing six games seems preposterous. However, with Tom Brady being suspended for the first quarter of the season, injuries to both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, and facing the two toughest divisions in the NFL in the AFC North and NFC West, there is a lot of unknowns for the Patriots in 2016.
At the tail-end of the 2015 season, the Patriots were without Julian Edelman and as a result the offense looked anemic. In addition, when Danny Amendola was called upon to step in for Edelman, he was just average. Granite he was battling injury as well, but it gives you less confidence as a fan that he can come in and fill-in for Edelman if he were to miss time in 2016. In addition, if Amendola is out due to his multiple surgeries, Jimmy Garoppolo in the first four weeks will have to throw to the two tight ends on almost every down. There is zero threat of a run game, and without their two best receivers defenses can just zero in on Gronkowski and Bennett, because Keshawn Martin and Chris Hogan will not beat you single-handedly.
Even after Tom Brady serves his suspension and both wide receivers return healthy, the Patriots schedule is no walk in the park. Starting in mid-October the Patriots must take on the Bengals at home, at Pittsburgh, at Buffalo, then the bye week. Then they come back from the bye and play at home against Seattle on Sunday night, travel across country to play San Francisco, then back cross country to play the Jets on Sunday night. Throw in a Monday night game against Baltimore late in December and then have to travel to the house of horrors that is Denver, and the Patriots have a pretty tough go-around in 2016.
The Patriots schedule in 2016 is a daunting one, but it shouldn’t cause to much concern. I would still pencil the Patriots in for 12 wins. Even after listing their tough schedule over the second half of the season, and the injuries they have. The talent on the roster as a whole is good enough to keep up with pretty much anyone. The defense is young and looks to be taking the next leap to a top defense within the league. Furthermore, the Patriots coaching is good enough have a winning record even without their starting quarterback for a whole season. That was apparent in 2008, and it will be apparent in the first four weeks of the 2016 season.