Tom Brady and the Patriots open the season in a familiar position — as defending Super Bowl champions
Last season was a magical one for the New England Patriots and a campaign that rightfully cemented the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady combination as the best ever at their respective positions. Even for those precious few skeptics out there, the run to another Lombardi Trophy was one of the most impressive yet in the team's dynasty, overcoming two of the best offenses in the NFL to raise the trophy once again.
While 2018 may have been legacy-defining, the title defense in 2019 feels like a new chapter in New England. Cornerstones like Rob Gronkowski are partying off in retirement to begin the year while other key pieces like left tackle Trent Brown have departed for greener pastures. Looming over it all is a question that has been asked for a better part of a decade too: is this finally the year where Brady starts to look more like his age instead of the Hall of Famer we've come to see him as?
The good news for those in the greater Boston area is that after a tough home opener, the schedule at least allows for the team to have some breathing room as they sort out all the moving parts like usual under Belichick. It remains to be seen if the AFC East can mount much of a challenge given the number of rebuilds in the division so one probably can write another postseason berth in ink.
That, of course, is where we really find out just how good the Patriots are each season. With that in mind, Athlon Sports asked several experts to share their predictions for just how New England's season will play out and what the team's record will be when all is said and done.
New England Patriots Game-by-Game Predictions for 2019
Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer)
The Tom Brady-age talk overshadows every storyline with the Patriots seemingly every year but this season, in particular, it obscures the fact that the roster is actually quite impressive all things considered. I actually like the receiving corps around the ageless-QB and the offensive line/run game seem like they're built to wear opponents down come January. I'll buy the defensive front seven over-performing over the course of the year too and that's to say nothing of Belichick's usual wizardry on that side of the ball in general. New England will still wind up losing a game or two they shouldn't and winning one or two against the AFC's best to remain among the top two seeds come playoff time just as they have since the beginning of time. Add all that up together and it's hard not to like their chances of defending the title even if the opposition around the league isn't sitting around twiddling their thumbs.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I've got the Patriots finishing 13-3 here, but I would not be surprised to see 14-2. The schedule is favorable with Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Dallas all coming to New England this season. Buffalo and the Jets are getting better, but neither will threaten the Patriots' run at the top of the AFC East. How the offense performs without Rob Gronkowski at tight end will be interesting, but there's no reason to expect a massive drop-off with Tom Brady still performing at a high level at age 42. Going back-to-back as Super Bowl champs is never easy. But New England is at the top — or near — the list of contenders for 2019.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMark)
Yes, Tom Brady isn't getting any younger (neither is Bill Belichick for that matter). But when it comes to the Patriots let's talk about another number — 10. That's how many AFC East titles this team has won IN A ROW. And if you want to go back farther it's 15 of the last 16. Let that sink in for a minute. So unless Brady suffers a major injury or Father Time catches up to him in a hurry, I have a hard time picking against New England, especially when you look at this season's schedule. Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Dallas all have to come to Gillette Stadium, the place where Belichick/Brady teams just don't lose. The Patriots' toughest road games are against the Eagles and Texans and maybe you make a case for the Ravens (sorry, Jets. I'm just not there yet). I don't really expect New England to go 13-3, not with all of the personnel changes that took place this offseason. But it also wouldn't shock me if the defending Super Bowl champs proved everyone wrong... again.