New England Patriots predicted to exceed expectations in 2021 season

Jalen Mills #2 and Nelson Agholor #13 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Jalen Mills #2 and Nelson Agholor #13 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots regular season is right around the corner. While the NFL season will officially get underway on Thursday night when the defending Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, take on the Dallas Cowboys, the Patriots won’t hit the field until later this weekend when they take on the Miami Dolphins.

Excitement is through the roof surrounding the Pats right now. The front office put in a lot of work throughout the offseason to ensure this team will not go 7-9 again this season. After an encouraging preseason, fans are ready to see if those results will translate to the regular season action.

Expectations have had to be massively adjusted after it was announced rookie quarterback Mac Jones had won the starting job. Whereas we had some expectations with presumed starter Cam Newton, they no longer exist with Jones under the helm.

That hasn’t killed the hype surrounding this team however. In fact, they are one of the top teams predicted to exceed expectations in the 2021 NFL season according to FanSided’s Matt Lombardo. Lombardo asked a mix of coaches, executives, scouts, and players for some predictions before the season kicks off, and the Patriots got the second most votes for teams most likely to surprise/exceed expectations this season.

Why the New England Patriots could exceed expectations this season

The main reason New England is predicted to exceed expectations this season is probably because nobody really knows what to expect from them. They were wildly inconsistent last season with Newton under center, and just when everyone felt like they were beginning to figure out what to expect from him, head coach Bill Belichick cut him.

That leaves Jones under center, and similarly to Newton, no one knows what to expect from him. He looked solid in preseason, and is a much better fit in the offense than Newton, but still has yet to take a snap in a regular season game. When the lights are brighter, how will he adjust?

The ironic thing is Jones will most likely play a much smaller part in determining how the season goes for New England than people think he will. Sure, he plays the most important position in the game, but it’s not as if Belichick is going to throw him out there and immediately dial up 30 passing plays per game. The media’s infatuation with the Jones/Newton situation has led to everyone overlooking how good the rest of this team looks.

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The rest of the offense is built for a rookie like Jones to thrive in. The running game will probably control the offense at least to start, with Damien Harris expected to get the majority of the carries now that Sony Michel is out of town. Harris and the rest of the running backs will be playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the game, which should be a huge help for Jones as well.

When Jones is throwing the ball and not just handing it off, he will have a lot more targets to throw to than Newton did last season. Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Jakobi Meyers highlight the wide receiver corps while free agent additions Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith will look to finally give New England multiple options from the tight end position.

Even if Jones struggles, the defense will be able to bail him out more often than not. While they struggled at times last season, the defense did a great job at keeping the New England Patriots in a few games that should have certainly been blowouts. That could be the case again this season.

The front seven has been massively revamped, and really has no weakness on paper. They reinforced their run defense by bringing back Lawrence Guy and adding Davon Godchaux and Christian Barmore. They added pass rushers in Matthew Judon and Kyle Van Noy. And Dont’a Hightower will return and help Ja’Whaun Bentley shore up the inside linebacker role as well.

Combine that with a strong secondary, and this defense will be tough to move the ball on. Even with Stephon Gilmore still out for the next few weeks, the secondary should be able to hold their own until his eventual return.

Everyone’s been too enamored with the Jones situation to truly figure out what to expect from this team. You will see gaudy predictions on what they can or can’t accomplish with Jones under center, but the reality is this team should easily be able to pick up more wins than they did last season regardless of what Jones does.

Next. Redoing Patriots 2021 game-by-game predictions. dark

If the minimal expectation for the New England Patriots is eight wins, they will exceed that easily. People around the league clearly recognize the improvements New England has made, and in short time, the rest of the world will too. Only time will tell whether the Patriots can exceed their expectations, but as of right now, they sure do look like a safe bet to do so.