2. The Patriots Will Have the Top-Ranked Defense in the NFL
This one is fairly realistic, as the Patriots have consistently had strong defenses under Belichick. Still, it’s hard to rank No. 1 when there are 31 other teams in the league.
New England’s defense was good last year, but it wasn’t quite at the top of the league. The Pats ranked 11th in points allowed, eighth in yards allowed and third in interceptions.
Of course, New England’s defense would have been even better last year if the offense didn’t consistently put them in tough spots. That shouldn’t be the case this year now that there’s an actual offensive coordinator running the offense.
The Patriots’ defense should be even better than last year’s unit, too, after Belichick used his first three draft picks on defensive players last spring. That influx of young talent, led by first-round cornerback Christian Gonzalez, should help elevate this unit and make it truly elite.
3. Kendrick Bourne Leads New England in Receiving Yards
Bournes’ production has mirrored that of Jones so far. In 2021, both were pretty good. In 2022, not so much.
Bourne played 16 games last year but managed only 35 catches on 48 targets for 434 yards and 1 touchdown — all well below his 2021 numbers.
Fortunately for Bourne, he and Jones have been on the same page this preseason. They’ve shown great chemistry with Bourne acting as Jones’ security blanket, setting him up for a big season.
Bourne may not get to 1,000 receiving yards (his personal high is 800), but he should approach that number if he stays healthy and continues to build on his rapport with Jones.
JuJu Smith-Schuster may be the No. 1 receiver on the depth chart, but he’s already dealing with knee issues and is a good bet to miss time. That opens the door for Bourne to lead the team in receiving yards.