4. New England Ends the Year With a Different Starting Kicker
The Patriots are putting a lot of stock in rookie kicker Chad Ryland, so much so that they traded away former Pro Bowler Nick Folk.
While the move makes sense, I could see it backfiring for New England. Ryland was drafted out of Maryland, which isn’t exactly a football powerhouse. He’s also never made a kick during an NFL regular season game, so he’s extremely unproven.
Kicking in Foxborough is tough, as you have to deal with the elements. Ryland may not be up to the challenge, especially if the Patriots end up playing a lot of close games again that come down to whether or not Ryland splits the uprights.
If Ryland struggles but the Patriots are still in the hunt for a playoff spot late in the season, they may have to pivot away from him and sign someone else.
5. The Patriots Win 10+ Games
This one sounds bold, but it’s not too far-fetched when you really think about it.
For starters, the Patriots won 8 games last year, so they only need to improve by 2 wins to get to double digits.
One of their losses last year was the colossally dumb lateral game against the Raiders, which obviously won’t happen again.
New England also lost 4 games by 7 points or less. With better offensive play, one or two of those games could have easily been wins, and all of the sudden you’re at 10 victories.
With their elite defense and Belichick at the helm, the Patriots already have a high floor. If their offense can merely be league average in 2023, they have a great shot at winning at least 10 games.
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