The State of the Franchise has been very successful so far, with tons of UK NFL fans showcasing their knowledge of the game and more specifically, their team. Talking about being very successful, this weeks edition features a very successful franchise; the New England Patriots.
We’re spoiled this week as we have two UK Patriots fans to give us their thoughts. Louis Yssennagger (@lyssennagger ) and Michael Byrne weigh in with their thoughts on last season – this should be very interesting!! – and makes his predictions for 2018/19.
So, let’s get straight to it …
Last Season’s Reflections
Louis: After losing Julian Edelman in the preseason and opening the season with a massive loss to the Chiefs at home, I thought that this year might be the year it all falls apart. What most people don’t see us as outsiders, is the fragile nature of “The Empire”. One Brady knee injury and then we’re onto Brian Hoyer…
Thankfully, we managed to steady the ship and come out the other side at 2-2, with Brady starting to play to a standard we haven’t seen for a while. The next 8-0 stretch was brilliant. We played some brilliant football and really asserted ourselves as the dominant team in the AFC again.
I’ll skip over the seemingly annual loss to Miami in Miami.
The huge game against the Steelers was, predictably, erratic. We left it incredibly late to beat a Steelers team that had some pretty big holes to exploit. But, we did our job and the final stretch of going 3-0 led us to a 13-3 regular season record.
The first round of the playoffs against the Titans was, in all honesty, a cake walk. This set us up quite nicely for possibly one of the tightest Patriots playoff games I have ever seen. Theoretically, the Jags were everything you’d hate as a Pats player and seemingly the kryptonite to the Patriots dynasty. However, Tom Brady should never be disregarded and came out clutch, in the end, to help us advance to our 3rd Superbowl in four years.
The Superbowl was not fun. I try not to talk about it. The defence was non-existent. Belichick out Belichick’d himself by benching Butler. Brady flopped on the OG “Philly Special”. And now the Eagles won’t shut up about the fact they finally won a Superbowl. Also, Nick Foles is legit.
Michael: Despite the heartbreakingly tight loss in Super Bowl 52 to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Patriots enjoyed another successful season, overall. Going into last season there was a definite buzz around Foxborough, with the acquisitions of Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore adding to a team coming off their 5th Lombardi Trophy. The anticipation grew to a fever pitch, with some pundits even predicting another run at a perfect season by Belichick & Co.
However, these hopes were immediately dashed when the Chiefs rolled into town. The next 2 weeks saw a Tom Brady passing clinic to take a victory in New Orleans. At 2-2, the season had started poorly, the usually stingy New England defense had allowed a league worst 128 points in their opening 4 games. Comfortable wins against the Bills and Jets ended the regular season though, and the Pats headed into the Playoffs with the #1 seed and a 13-3 record.
After beating the Chiefs, the upstart Jags led 20-10 in the championship game before a vintage Brady 4th quarter comeback sent the Foxborough faithful home happy, and the Patriots to their 3rd Super Bowl in 4 years. Yet, this final hurdle would prove too much for New England! Kudos have to go out to Doug Pederson and his staff for the 41-33 victory – they deserved this one.
Changes During The Off-Season
Louis: Towards the end of the season, as is par for the course, an ESPN article spoke to the rifts forming between Brady, Belichick, and Kraft. Now, in reality, it’s impossible for any of us to know the extent of the problems in New England. However, I am sure many of us Pats fans are very wary of the fact we are nearing the end of this Dynasty.
Perhaps the biggest move of the offseason is losing Matt Patricia, our defensive coordinator. He has been a defensive mastermind for some of the most recent Superbowl runs. Losing him to the Lions is massive and may well prove to be our undoing. However, I am very happy we didn’t also lose Josh McDaniels. That would have been terrible.
This off-season has seen a number of players depart. Most notably, Dion Lewis, Malcolm Butler, Nate Solder, and Danny Amendola. Now, Julian Edelman returning after his year of injury is a massive boost to this team, effectively negating the loss of Danny. Drafting both Sony Michel and Isaiah Wynn in the first round theoretically helps with the loss of Dion and Nate. Last season, Butler wasn’t very effective so I feel safe in the knowledge Stephon Gilmore will only get better.
Over the off-season, we have signed both Jordan Matthews and Cordarelle Patterson. Both great additions to a deep WR core that will be brilliant weapons for TB12. Adding some depth at Offensive Line will be a help, as will signing DE Adrian Clayborn to help our frankly useless pass rush.
The final question from the off-season moves is, will Danny Etling become the new Tom Brady? Probably not.
Michael: Directly after the Super Bowl, it was easy to predict a summer of great change for the Pats. Since the trade deadline, there had been reports of unresolved issues within the ranks of New England, for really the first time in Belichick’s tenure.
The threat of both coordinators leaving was not realised, with Josh McDaniels spurning the Colts to stay on. However, Matt Patricia’s appointment in Detroit leaves a gap in New England’s chain of command. And, free agency saw the departure of some real difference makers from last year’s team.
Overall, for the last 15 years the Patriots have constantly changed the roster around, so you have to have faith in their ability to find suitable replacements for these significant departures. The largest issues this offseason gave the Patriots were the alleged conflict between Belichick and Brady, which should not affect performance even if true, and the threat of major coaching upheaval. Neither have been truly recognised, and so the Patriots are once again in a good position.
Predictions For The New Season
Louis: For this coming season, I have the whole of the NFL, both AFC and NFC, being a lot tighter than in previous years. In addition, I feel we have a lot tougher schedule this year being matched up with the NFC North so there could be some surprises in here.
I currently have us winning on opening night against the Texans at home. Then losing two straight away games to the Jags and the Lions. Two home wins against the Dolphins and the Colts puts us back on track at 3-2, but losing to the Chiefs at home again sits us at 3-3. Cue all the hysteria and “Brady is finished” news articles.
6 straight wins put us well back in the race for top dog in the AFC, disposing of the Packers and Vikings on the way. Our annual loss to the Dolphins in Miami happens again, before going 3-0 to finish the season at 12-4, and another number 1 seed in the AFC.
The divisional round will see us host the Bills and make easy work of them. Moving on to the conference championship against the Colts is a great throwback to AFC title games of yesteryear. As in those games, we will beat the Colts to head to a fourth Superbowl in five years.
Much like the other predictions here, the Superbowl is one we have seen many a time before: Pats vs Giants. However, this time Brady gets the better of Eli, winning a 6th ring before riding off into the sunset to retirement.
Michael: The upcoming season relies totally on the health and continued performance of QB Tom Brady. With no succession plan in place, and a career backup behind him (Brian Hoyer) it is imperative that he can stay on the field and up to his impeccable standards.
The D will look for a stronger start than in 2017, and an improved performance over their last showing in the Super Bowl. Belichick has a big job to make this unit elite again, but does have some really talented pieces.
Overall, the schedule is pretty good. A tough start features Playoff rematches with Tennessee and Jacksonville, but then cools considerably with games against Indianapolis and Chicago a part of the following schedule. Games to highlight will be the rematch with the Jags in Week 2, Patricia’s reunion in Week 3, Indy’s revenge for McDaniels in Week 5, a dream QB matchup with Aaron Rodgers coming to Foxborough in Week 9 and another chilly Week 15 game in Pittsburgh. It should be a fun season for the Patriots, as all fans continue to enjoy the last few years of potentially both Brady and Belichick. I could see between an 11-5 and 13-3 season for New England, and it’s become impossible to bet against them reaching what would become an 8th straight trip to the AFC Title Game. Once you get to that stage, it’s anyone’s guess.
Editor Notes: Patriots fans, let us know your thoughts and tell us whether you agree with Louis’ & Michael’s reflections and predictions. Leave a comment or contact us via social media below: