The New England Patriots are being underrated again

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) runs with the ball during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Mass.Titans Patriots 098
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) runs with the ball during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Mass.Titans Patriots 098 /

The disrespect for Bill Belichick continues to be alive and well as the New England Patriots are getting lost in the shuffle of the revamped AFC East

As the preseason approaches ever so incrementally, teams like the New England Patriots find themselves in the crosshairs of the sports media and the betting world as the best organization in football naturally would.

But what has caught the eye of many, including myself, is that once again the Pats are being underestimated by way of win totals displayed across just about every sports betting platform out there.

It depends on where you look, but WynnBet currently has the New England Patriots’ win total at 8.5 after finishing last season with a 10-7 record.

That has been the total I’ve seen around many other sports sites, so the consensus on the 2022 New England Patriots seems very clearly to be that they are somewhere around a .500 team that may or may not win more games than they lose.

In other words, the Pats are middle of the pack and trending downward in many people’s eyes.

Why is this?

Well, that’s why I’m here.

They’re the only team in their division that got worse this offseason……allegedly

Everybody and their mother are wetting their britches about how much better the Dolphins and Jets got this offseason.

Miami obviously added Terron Armstead, Tyreek Hill, Melvin Ingram, Sony Michel, Chase Edmonds, Raheem “Fantasy Team Killer” Mostert, Cedrick Wilson, and the brains behind the 49ers run game all these years, Mike McDaniel.

The Jets had one of the best drafts of any team this offseason adding three first-round studs, as well as a running back in Breece Hall that should have one of the biggest impacts in his rookie season of any rookie on the board.

They also picked up Laken Tomlinson, two solid tight ends in CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, and the tandem of Jordan Whitehead and DJ Reed to add to the secondary.

The Bills are already a top-tier team, so that leaves everybody looking at the New England Patriots having made no real “flashy” moves and scratching their heads.

But I’m here to tell you not only is the Patriots’ so-called “weak offseason” an overrated narrative but the additions Miami and New York made all fall by the wayside if their young quarterbacks cannot live up to expectations with their revamped rosters.

I’ll also make a point about Buffalo’s offseason in a bit.

Zach Wilson and Tua Tagovailoa have A LOT to prove this season. You can have those stacked rosters the Jets and Dolphins now have, but there’s a fair chance both quarterbacks fall flat on their faces considering what we’ve seen from them to this point in the NFL.

Tua lacks the physical portion of the game. That is just a reality at this point. His arm strength is not on the level of most starting quarterbacks in this league, his decision-making is still shaky at times, and now he’s got a lot of pressure on him to be able to replicate what Patrick Mahomes did for one of the best wide receivers in the game all these years.

Zach Wilson was a pick machine in the first half of 2021, but he cleaned his act up a bit down the stretch after he shed his injury. He’s got a lot of room to grow. Now he’s got the roster around him to do it…something Sam Darnold never had when he was in New York.

The kid is set up for success in a very young locker room with tons of potential.

But what version of Zach emerges in 2022? The bad one who couldn’t keep possession of the football. The sort of good one that had some bright moments down the stretch of 2021? Or will it be a better one with a year under his belt?

So many questions with Zach, but without seeing him break out yet, one would be well within their rights to assume he’s teetering in “bust” territory, still.

As for the Bills, I don’t necessarily know for sure if they got “better” in the offseason.

They dropped a ton of key players on the defensive line as well as a solid corner in Levi Wallace and two pivotal wide receivers in Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders.

You may argue the guys they replaced the likes of Wallace, Mario Addison, Vernon Butler, Justin Zimmer, Jerry Hughes, Star Lotulelei, and Harrison Phillips with are upgrades, i.e. Von Miller, DaQuan Jones, Tim Settle Jordan Phillips, Shaq Lawson, Jamison Crowder OJ Howard, and Kaiir Elam, but making such a drastic overhaul runs a high risk of failure, regardless of what team does it and how talented that team already is.

The Bills are a very good team, but they cut their team almost in half from last season to now.

The Patriots, on the other hand, are a way different story.

Everybody’s saying they got so much worse this offseason after losing three starting linebackers (Collins, Hightower, and Van Noy), a special teams stud (Olszewski), a staple right guard (Mason), and one of the best corners in the league right now (JC Jackson).

But knowing Bill like I think I do, his track record demonstrates clearly that when he decides to move on from a player, it usually works out in his favor.

Simultaneously, the Pats replaced Jackson and an aging Stephon Gilmore with Malcolm Butler and Terrance Mitchell- by no means “upgrades,” but both have a lot of experience and Butler seemed to play his best ball as a member of the Pats.

They join a secondary that still has Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Jonathan Jones, Jalen Mills, and Adrian Phillips.

You can throw Jabrill Peppers in there as well, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Peppers transition to a middle linebacker role in this Patriots defense.

On the offensive side, the retain Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, and Nelson Agholor- not “elite” guys, but guys who worked very well last year for the offense, and they also added DeVante Parker who was wasting away in Miami, and a very underrated Baylor receiver in Tyquan Thornton.

James White is also back after missing basically the entire 2021 season.

All I’m saying right now is that I don’t know for sure that the Patriots indeed got “worse,” like so many have been saying. I also don’t know for sure that the Bills didn’t get worse, nor can I buy completely into the Jets and Dolphins turnarounds until I see them actually prove their quarterbacks don’t hold them back in 2022.

The three things that are causing people to underrate the Patriots right now are these:

(1) Like we just talked about, they are buying into the narrative that the Pats got worse while teams like the Jets and Dolphins got better, making that supposed New England Patriots drop-off even more highlighted since the division is viewed as tougher than it was last year without seeing “how” and even “if” Tua and Zach Wilson got any better, which cannot be seen until they play in actual games.

(2) Mac Jones is still not respected enough. I’ll admit it myself, I’m someone who believes Mac got a little overhyped last year.

He had the best coach in the game at his back as well as a super-stacked running game, O-line, and defense- something rookie quarterbacks dream to have. But although I and many others are skeptical of Mac when he finally clears the honeymoon phase, he’s still got a great organization and coaching staff around him, and he’s clearly got a good head on his shoulders to mentally hang.

I think many are expecting a huge drop-off in 2022, and I just don’t see it with the pieces he has around him- especially that run game.

And finally (3) – everybody wants to be the one to call the Bill Belichick collapse and have that prediction come true. It’s just what happens when you’re as successful as Bill has been in his career.

He’s built an absolute dynasty, and now that the golden boy is in Tampa Bay/half-retired, many want to finally see the empire crumble.

I’m someone who firmly believes it was always 70% Brady/30% Belichick, but even that 30% is good enough to stand head and shoulders above every other coach and team in this league.

The New England Patriots are once again being underrated heading into 2022. But my point through all this rambling is that until they prove to be a fallen dynasty, not a dynasty in transition like the last two years have been, I would not bet on them finishing with anything less than nine wins.