Key Arrivals: Michael Bennett, Brandon Bolden, Bruce Ellington, Matt LaCrosse, Mike Pennel, Demaryius Thomas, Ben Watson, Jamie Collins, N’Keal Harry, Joejuan Williams, Chase Winovich, Damien Harris
Key Returns: Jason McCourty, Stephen Gostkowski, John Simon, Philip Dorsett
Key Departures: Malcom Brown, Trent Brown, Trey Flowers, Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, Eric Rowe, LaAdrian Waddle
|Week 1||Sept. 8th 7:20 PM ET||vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (NBC)|
|Week 2||Sept. 15th 1:00 PM ET||@ Miami Dolphins (CBS)|
|Week 3||Sept. 22nd 1:00 PM ET||vs. New York Jets (CBS)|
|Week 4||Sept. 29th 1:00 PM ET||@ Buffalo Bills (CBS)|
|Week 5||Oct. 6th 1:00 PM ET||@ Washington Redskins (CBS)|
|Week 6||Oct. 10th 8:20 PM ET||vs. New York Giants (FOX)|
|Week 7||Oct. 21st 8:15 PM ET||@ New York Jets (ESPN)|
|Week 8||Oct. 27th 4:25 PM ET||vs. Cleveland Browns (CBS)|
|Week 9||Nov. 3rd 8:20 PM ET||@ Baltimore Ravens (NBC)|
|Week 10||Bye Week|
|Week 11||Nov. 17th 4:25 PM ET||@ Philadelphia Eagles (CBS)|
|Week 12||Nov. 24th 4:25 PM ET||vs. Dallas Cowboys (FOX)|
|Week 13||Dec. 1st 8:20 PM ET||@ Houston Texans (NBC)|
|Week 14||Dec. 8th 4:25 PM ET||vs. Kansas City Chiefs (CBS)|
|Week 15||Dec. 15th 1:00 PM ET||@ Cincinnati Bengals (CBS)|
|Week 16||Dec. 22nd TBD||vs Buffalo Bills (CBS)|
|Week 17||Dec. 29th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Miami Dolphins (CBS)|
What can be said about the Patriots 2018 campaign that ended with the organization’s sixth Super Bowl victory? It provided the world with even more proof that Brady, the ageless wonder, and Belichick have captured something truly special and should not be counted out. With a few bumps in the road en route to an 11-5 record in the regular season. The season certainly helped cement the legacy of Brady/Belichick.
The offseason brought the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, as well as defensive coordinator Brian Flores who left to take the head coaching position with the Miami Dolphins. In the draft, rather than try to find a suitable replacement for Gronk, the Patriots chose wide receiver N’Keal Harry from Arizona State. Although he is a solid talent with speed and size, the Patriots veteran receivers will need to up their production (as of this writing Harry on IR until week eight). In free agency, the Patriots brought in Demaryius Thomas to boost the production of the offense. Julian Edelman and James White both return as the team’s top two receivers from their Super Bowl run. Also, running back and former first-round pick Sony Michael will look to continue his improvement as the offense will be looking to involve him more. The offense should continue to be in the top 10 in the NFL (fifth in 2018).
Defensively, the unit remains intact except for the departures of Trey Flowers and Malcom Brown who both departed via free agency. Newcomers Michael Bennett and Mike Pennel will be looked at to fill the needs as well as assist in improving a defense that ranked 21st in the NFL in 2019. Although losing their top sack producer in Flowers who had 7.5 sacks last season, Bennett had nine sacks last season and 8.5 the year before. Incoming rookie Chase Winovich will also look to be a solid contributor to the defensive efforts of the Patriots. In the secondary, the McCourty brothers join the list of siblings playing together at the pro level. Patrick Chung and Stephon Gilmore will help solidify the secondary although off the field issues overshadow Chung until resolved.
The overwhelming theme for the Patriots heading into the 2019 campaign is that they are favorites to remain atop the AFC and represent the conference in the Super Bowl. While history has shown never underestimate the Patriots, the season certainly has potential pitfalls starting with the opener against the Steelers prime time Sunday night. Also, mid – late-season matchups against the Browns, Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans, and Chiefs will provide a series of tests and potential playoff/Super Bowl matchups that could make or break the Patriots attempt to repeat. Although there is no reason to doubt that the AFC East will still be controlled by the Patriots and they are a favorite along with the Chiefs to be in the Super Bowl in Miami. They will have their usual deep run in the playoffs and could very well end with a Super Bowl appearance in Brady and Belichick’s quest for a seventh ring.