The New England Patriots have been a steady ship since Tom Brady was their quarterback, only missing out on the playoffs in 2002, one season after winning the Super Bowl. So it seems obvious to me that as long as the Patriots have Brady and are coached by Bill Belichick, they will be a playoff team.
So what will their record be at the end of the 2013 season? Let’s count the wins.
In Weeks 1-3, they play the Buffalo Bills as visitors, and the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home. They start the season 3-0 and look unbeatable. They then play at the Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals. Given that the Patriots’ defense is their weakness, they lose by a touchdown to Atlanta and a field goal to the Bengals, who should have an improved offense with additions like Tyler Eifert and Giovanni Bernard.
Now it’s 3-2 after five games. In Weeks 6-11, they play the New Orleans Saints at home where they win a shootout. They then play the Jets and Carolina Panthers away, both easy victories, and they play the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins at home.
The Steelers are in rebuild mode from having too many old players, and the young players and the Dolphins don’t play up to their capabilities away. Two more victories for the Patriots. 8-2 after 10 games and one bye week.
The Denver Broncos come into town in Week 12, and the Patriots have a letdown, losing by two touchdowns. Everyone jumps off their bandwagon for a week. They then travel to Houston Texans and pummel them by 17 points, and everyone jumps back on the bandwagon.
The Cleveland Browns come into Gillette Stadium and put a good defensive battle but lose by eight, as Brady leads a touchdown drive to eat up the fourth quarter. 10-3 after 14 weeks.
New England then travels to Miami, where they have always had problems, and lose in a shocker. The next week they play the Baltimore Ravens in hostile territory where they have also always had trouble, and lose to the Joe Flacco-led Ravens by a field goal.
Finally, the Patriots play the Bills at home and win by two touchdowns, capping off their season at 11-5.
They go into the playoffs as the winner of the NFC East Title and a three-seed. They win the Wild Card game, and lose in the divisional round because their young receiving core doesn’t play up to Brady’s standards, like they did for the regular season. The New England Patriots finish the season at 12-6.