Patriots’ 12th-Straight AFC East Title Seems Unlikely, Says NFL Insider

Bill Belichick

Getty Bill Belichick and the 2020 New England Patriots have their doubters.

Is it too early to bury Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots? Apparently not, as many, including the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian, is already projecting a tough road ahead for Belichick and Co. as they soldier on after losing Tom Brady (or letting him walk) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.

In addition to losing Brady, which is significant enough, the Patriots will also see some massive turnover on the defensive side of the ball.

Karen Guregian Sees Plenty of Reasons to Doubt New England

Guregian writes:

With Brady’s departure, the chief advantage the Pats enjoyed for two decades no longer exists. As it is, the situation at quarterback for Bill Belichick’s team is unsettled. Couple that uncertainty with heavy losses on defense, and the six-time Super Bowl champs look like they might finally fall back to earth.

The Bills, Jets, and Dolphins are collectively licking their chops with a chance to dethrone the champs.

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Guregian isn’t the only one with something of a foreboding take on the Patriots’ 2020 season. Oddsmakers project the Patriots’ win total to dip to nine 9 next season, and most expect the team to be in a year-long battle with the fastly improving Buffalo Bills for the division title.

ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 29: T.J. Yeldon #22 of the Buffalo Bills attempts to evade a tackle by Kyle Van Noy #53 of the New England Patriots during the third quarter at New Era Field on September 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, New York. New England defeats Buffalo 16-10. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick is Positively Impacting the Patriots’ Odds

If we’re being honest, the fact the Patriots are even projecting as a nine-win team is a wonder. Even with so much transition, and a questionable QB situation led by an inexperienced second-year pro, most expect New England to remain a threat. That shows how respected Belichick is throughout the NFL universe.

If we were talking about any other franchise, head coach and culture, the outlook might be bleaker.

Guregian acknowledges the Belichick factor. She writes:

For the first time in a football generation, the Patriots appear vulnerable heading into the 2020 season. But it’s never a wise idea to bury a Belichick-coached team, no matter its flaws. There’s still a roomful of winners in Foxboro, led by Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung and Julian Edelman.

Because the Patriots are also up against some challenges from a salary-cap situation, there is a chance they may not have two of the players Guregian mentioned on their roster in 2020.

Potential Patriots Cap Casualties

Both Chung and Edelman could potentially be salary-cap casualties and that could further complicate what is already shaping up as a year of transition. In fact, Patriots salary cap expert Miguel Benzan predicts Chung is one of the players who will not be on the roster when Week 1 rolls around to begin the 2020 season.

There are still lots of questions about the Patriots’ roster, but we’ll see a few more things fall into place at the 2020 NFL Draft on April 23-25. Ultimately, the Patriots won’t be able to prove the doubters wrong until they take the field.

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