Patriots

NBC Sports Boston staffers weigh in on the rest of the Patriots season

Patriots

Earlier this week we asked various members of the NBC Sports Boston team to weigh in with their thoughts on the remainder of the 2021 Patriots season. 

The results for your viewing pleasure ... 

Trenni Kusnierek, host, Early Edition

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: The Patriots, at 11-6, will make the playoffs. They will continue to improve as the season goes on, riding their defense into the wild card round. 

Will the Pats win the AFC East: I’m not counting out the Bills just yet. Two games in December against a team with a tough defense and a tested quarterback will be too much for the Pats. But New England won’t make it easy on the Bills, the teams will split those games and both will be close and physical. 

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: Sadly, Mac Jones will have to settle for second place. Ja’Marr Chase is putting up flashy numbers and when you can’t watch every game week in and week out, that is what stands out. 

Team MVP will be?: Team MVP will be Matthew Judon. The Pats will make the postseason in large part due to their defense and he has reinvigorated that group. 

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: In the end, an average offensive line in front of a rookie quarterback will be the Patriots downfall. There’s a reason rookies don’t win the Super Bowl. Especially ones who have spent too much of the year running for their life and feeling the pressure.

 

Tom E. Curran, Patriots Insider

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: The Patriots and their 10-7 record do indeed make the playoffs, rebounding from back-to-back losses to the Titans and Bills to close with a flourish.

Curran: What is Josh McDaniels' future in Foxboro? Is OBJ a fit?

Will the Pats win the AFC East: No. The Bills finish at 11-6 and the Patriots are left to rue what might have been had they beaten Miami, Tampa or Dallas in all those winnable games.

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: He sure will. It will be a closer vote than it oughta be because people don't get that good quarterback play is more important than outstanding receiver play.

Team MVP will be?: See above. While Matt Judon is going to be a Pro Bowler and should get All-Pro votes, the fortunes of a franchise ride on the QB, not the edge rusher. If not for Mac, average team at best.

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: They just weren't ready yet. The tackle situation/pass protection wasn't good enough and there wasn't enough offensive explosiveness.

Phil Perry, Patriots Insider

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: Yes. They have an identity. They have a good mix of veteran experience and young talent. Their defense has the ability to be punishing. They’ll finish 11-6. 

Perry: Is J.C. Jackson really this good and will the Pats pay him?

Will the Pats win the AFC East: Yes. The Bills have an excellent defense but they still make Bills mistakes. Josh Allen has regressed a bit, and their offensive line and running game have issues. The Patriots have an edge at head coach and in the trenches. Late in the year, that’ll help. 

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: Yes. Ja’Marr Chase and the Bengals have come back to earth over the last few weeks. He’s a tremendous talent. But the voters favor quarterbacks -- Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson had an argument to win the award over LA’s Justin Herbert last year but didn’t -- and if the Patriots finish as a division winner, Mac Jones will take it home. (His stiffest competition may be from Justin Fields if the Bears rookie catches fire in the second half.)

Team MVP will be?: Matt Judon. The pressure he puts on opposing quarterbacks has allowed the Patriots to change what they do in the secondary, and it’s giving offensive coordinators headaches. This team is led by its defense and Judon is that unit’s best player. 

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: Talent at corner. Matt Judon and Christian Barmore and others may be able to harass quarterbacks consistently. But will that heat be so consistent that the Patriots can get by with a thin corner group? They have to this point. They’re one of the best scoring defenses in football. But there will come a time when Bill Belichick needs high-end, man-to-man coverage ability on the outside. Remains to be seen if he does, outside of J.C. Jackson.

 

Matt Cassel, Pregame Live analyst

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: I want to put them at 11-6, but 10-7 seems more realistic. You’ve got the Titans, Bills, Colts and Bills: That’s a tough four-week stretch. But 10-7 is good enough for the playoffs.

Will the Pats win the AFC East: They’ve got a chance. They play the Bills twice coming up, and you never know what Bills team is going to show up. But I still think Buffalo is the favorite until New England knocks them off.

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: He’d need a really strong performance down the stretch. If you look at Ja’Marr Chase’s stats through nine games -- he’s going to set NFL records. Everybody’s attracted to the stat line, so if Chase continues on his current pace, I think he’s a lock.

Team MVP will be?: Matt Judon. I don’t know if there’s another Patriots player who’s had more of an impact on the team with his consistent play and what he’s done for that defensive line than Judon.

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: The consistency in the passing game. If they become completely one-dimensional with the run game, aren’t able to have production in the passing game and can’t put together consistent drives, that will be their downfall.

John Tomase, Red Sox Insider

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: Yes. The defense is rounding into form, they've only been noncompetitive in one game, and the old-school offense controls the clock and limits the pressure on Mac. That's good enough for 10-7 and a wild card.

Will the Pats win the AFC East: The Bills may not be the dominant force we expected entering the season, but they're still the class of the AFC East and the division remains theirs to lose. The Pats will finish second.

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: Uh, have you seen what Ja'Marr Chase is doing in Cincinnati? He's on pace for 1,600 receiving yards and 13 TDs as a big-play monster. At his current pace, Mac won't even throw 20 touchdowns. Please. No.

Team MVP will be?: I know I'm supposed to say Matt Judon, but c'mon, it's Mac Jones. Consider how rookie quarterbacks are imploding, whether it's Zach Wilson in New York or Justin Fields in Chicago and then marvel at Mac. Put Cam Newton back under center and the Patriots are 3-6 on their way to nowhere.

 

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: Having just declared Mac Jones the team MVP, I will now pivot to Mac Jones as the bringer of doom. The speed and pressure of playoff football represents its own adjustment, and good luck keeping up with Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, or Patrick Mahomes in January. It's all part of the growing process.

Michael Holley, host, Boston Sports Tonight

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: The Pats will finish 11-6 and win the division. The Bills’ window lasted ... one year.

Will the Pats win the AFC East: See above.

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: Mac Jones is the most impressive rookie due to his position, but he won’t have the most impressive stats. Ja’Marr Chase will.

Team MVP will be?: J.C. Jackson. He’ll be a Pro Bowler and All Pro. He’ll do it all with a shrug. "Man, this is what I do ..."

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: Too few explosive offensive players. Eventually, they’ll face a playoff team that has too much weaponry to keep up with.

Rob Snyder, Multi-Platform Producer

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: Yes. 10-7. I still think the Chiefs jump them, but I don’t believe in the Steelers or Raiders. One or both of those teams will fall out. Pats will make it in.

Will the Pats win the AFC East: No. They may split with the Bills, but the fact of the matter is the Bills’ roster is better and they still have the Jets twice, the Falcons, and the Panthers. Bills have a handful of scheduled wins.

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: No. It’s Ja’Marr Chase. Jones is on pace for 18 TD and 12 INT. He’s been fine, but he’s not the best offensive rookie.

Team MVP will be?: Matt Judon. Guy has been a stud. Every week he brings it and it doesn’t seem like anyone is able to block him. Love the guy.

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: I hate to say this, but it’s Mac Jones. Not because he’s bad or anything, but because I still seem him as extremely limited in his play-making ability. He won’t make an obvious mistake that crushes them, but the plays in the passing game won’t necessarily be made when they need to be.

Nick Goss, Web Producer

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: The Patriots will make the playoffs as the No. 7 seed with a 9-8 record and lose to the Titans or Ravens in the AFC Wild Card Round.

Will the Pats win the AFC East: Nope, the Pats will at best split with the Bills and finish a game or two behind Buffalo in the division race. The Bills have an easier schedule down the stretch, including two should-be wins against the struggling New York Jets.

 

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: Barring some sort of injury, this award is Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s to lose. He’s already tallied 44 receptions for 835 yards and seven touchdowns.

Team MVP will be?: Matthew Judon is so important to the Patriots defense, particularly the pass rush. He’s becoming one of the best free agent signings of Bill Belichick’s two-decade career in Foxboro.

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: Turnovers are a huge problem for the Patriots and it’s a little concerning this area hasn’t been cleaned up by Week 10. These mistakes will cost the Patriots dearly against the better teams.

Adam Hart, Manager, Creative Content

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: Of course. 11-6 record gets them in. Bill Belichick is Thanos sitting on his back porch, so pleased to make it to the playoffs with the type of team he loves.

Will the Pats win the AFC East: They win the AFC East on a tie-breaker over the Bills. 

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: No. Rest of team will carry him to the playoffs, as designed. Rookie wall is legit. Ja'Marr Chase will take home the award.

Team MVP will be?: Judon. An injection of attitude, playmaking, energy, and accountability this team needed at this stage in the rebuild.

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: Offense not having its act together. Some mix of poor blocking, penalties, and lack of talent at receiver. Oh, and do you trust these backs to not fumble in a big spot again?

Dave Cherubin, Multi-Platform Producer

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: Patriots will make the playoffs. They’re improving as the season moves along and the AFC is so wide open that anything can happen.

Will the Pats win the AFC East: Patriots will win the division. They have an easier remaining schedule than the Bills and I think the Pats can win one of the two games against Buffalo.

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: Mac Jones won’t win the Offensive ROY award. Ja’Marr Chase is going to win it. So far he’s proven to be a no. 1 wideout and has helped make the Bengals offense look electric. Mac is going to have an even season but won’t light it up.  Chase will have a dominant season with eye-popping numbers.

 

Team MVP will be?: Team MVP will be Matt Judon. The Pats’ identity is being built on the defensive side of the ball and he’s the best player on the team this year. 

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: Their lack of playmakers and weapons on offense.  They won’t be able to score when they need to in the playoffs.

Jake Levin, digital contributor

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: Yes. With no truly great teams in AFC, a Patriots team that seems to have its worst football out of the way should get to 10-7.

Will the Pats win the AFC East:  No. The Bills still have the Jets twice -- although their Jaguars loss definitely means the division isn’t a runaway.

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: Yes. If Patriots make playoffs, Jones will have larger role in it than Ja’Marr Chase will for Bengals, enough to sway vote in his favor.

Team MVP will be?: Team MVP: Matt Judon. When is the last time the Patriots had an edge rusher like this that teams needed to game plan for?

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: Lack of depth on offense. Jones is coming along, but there’s no player that instills fear in opponents -- Jones included, for now.

Darren Hartwell, Senior Web Producer

Will the Pats make the playoffs and final record: The Patriots finish 10-7 after losses to Cleveland, Tennessee and Buffalo. That’s good enough for the No. 6 seed (second Wild Card spot) in a wide-open AFC.

Will the Pats win the AFC East: New England and Buffalo enter their Week 16 matchup tied for the AFC East lead, but the Bills pull off a road victory and win their last two to clinch their second straight division crown.

Will Mac Jones win the Offensive ROY?: Close, but no cigar. Ja’Marr Chase flirts with Justin Jefferson’s rookie receiving yards record to edge Jones, who tops 300 passing yards just once in his final eight games.

Team MVP will be?: Matt Judon. The Patriots’ free-agent pickup finishes the season with the third-most sacks in franchise history and continues to be a disruptive pass-rushing force on an elite defense.

In the end this is what will lead to their downfall: Their mediocre passing game. New England gets a Wild Card matchup with the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs, and Mac Jones and his underwhelming receiving corps can’t keep up with Patrick Mahomes. Patriots lose, 30-24.