Originally posted on Patriots Extra  |  Last updated 9/9/12

Stephen:  Based on their easy schedule and the improvements on defense, I expect the Patriots to go 14-2 during the regular season. I know it's not always fair to judge a strength of schedule based on last year's record, but I still think the Pats are set up for a deep playoff run with the opponents on the docket. During the first eight weeks, the only game they should conceivably struggle with will be against the Baltimore Ravens. Other than that, the only two games that could result in losses would be the back-to-back matchups against the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers. 

Personnel-wise, I think the Patriots are loaded on offense and should be even better than last year. Aaron Hernandez will be a Pro Bowler, and Gronk, Welker and Lloyd should continue to put up big numbers. On defense, the front seven should be more athletic and aggressive. The secondary would benefit from a turnaround season from Devin McCourty and continued health from Ras-I Dowling and Pat Chung. Overall, I think the Pats should beat up on a rather pedestrian AFC, although the Texans are a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.   Jason:  Just going game by game, it's not hard to see a path to a magical 15-1 or 16-0 regular season. That's a huge statement, but given the plush schedule, it's not out of the question. However, we also can't ignore the fact that the Pats are dangerously thin on the offensive line, and that defense is still a big question mark. I'd peg their record right around 12-4. The Pats always seem to lose one or two head-scratchers every year, and the Baltimore, Houston and San Francisco games are absolutely brutal based on each team's strengths and weaknesses.   Rick:  I have the Patriots finishing 13-3 this year. I think the defense will be much improved, especially with Chandler Jones rushing the passer. Belichick improved the defense a ton in the offseason and kept the core guys like Hernandez and Gronkowski in place. I think Brady has another near MVP year and the Pats win the AFC East. However, not having Matt Light and Brian Waters on that offensive line scares me enough to the point where I have New England losing in the AFC Championship Game to a team like the Ravens who have handled Brady in the past and if it wasn't for a missed field goal and a dropped touchdown pass, it would have happened last year.   Derek:  The Patriots finished 13-3 last season, which could actually be considered a "disappoinment" by New England's lofty standards.  Still, they were a healthy Gronkowski away from capturing the Lombardi last season.  Now Bill Belichick has had a full-offseason to tweak and retool his roster, and I for one, am extremely optimistic about the Patriots' chances in 2012.   Should the passing attack be even more potent?  Yes.   Should the running game be more explosive?  Yes.  Should the much-maligned defense be substantially better?  Yes.    Honestly, the only questionmark that nags at me heading into the season is the O-line.  Even then, this "nagging" issue has names like Mankins, Vollmer, Connolly, and Solder strung along it, and in reality should be just fine.  In my series of articles where I broke down the schedule game-by-game, I had the Pats going 14-2 with losses to Baltimore in Week 3, and a throw-away game in Week 17 to the Phins.  I will stick with that record to maintain any shred of credibility as somebody without over-the-top bias for his favorite team.  That being said, if the Patriots are 3-0 coming out of Baltimore, then watch out.  They will have a veritable run of "cream puff" games from then until Week 14 when the Texans come to town.  The Patriots may very well continue to build momentum, and build it, and build it, and be at 12-0 heading into that game.  And when Belichick and Brady are that close to recapturing their shot at immortality...    If they can get that game in Baltimore, the table may very well be set for 16-0.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Hugh Freeze resigns amid reports he contacted escort service

Dodgers reportedly ‘in the mix’ for top left-handed relievers

Did LeBron troll the world with Ben Simmons birthday tweet?

O.J. Simpson granted parole, will be released in October

Jourdan Lewis will miss start of camp for domestic abuse trial

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Vick 'truly sorry' for comments about Kaepernick

NFL owners pushing for Ezekiel Elliott suspension?

Report: Derrick Rose in ‘serious talks’ to join Cavs

Giants co-owner: Kaepernick is not being blackballed

Report: Lakers wanted to sign D-Wade if Bulls bought him out

Report: Bell has no plans to miss regular season games

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

Every NFL team’s biggest question as training camps start

Box Score 7/20: Nothing but Nolan

The 'Yoan Moncada era starts now' quiz

Every MLB team's biggest need at the trade deadline

Who won the Open Championship in the year you were born?

Box Score 7/19: The shadow of the trade deadline begins to fall over baseball

The Orioles need to unwind past deals if they are going to rebuild

The 'No one is betterer than Roger Federer' quiz

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Sam Hinkie is calling the shots

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

The 'Yoan Moncada era starts now' quiz

The Orioles need to unwind past deals if they are going to rebuild

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Sam Hinkie is calling the shots

The 'No one is betterer than Roger Federer' quiz

The 'Youth in baseball is cyclical' quiz

The unexpected rise of the Connecticut Sun

Getaway Day: Class is back in session

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker