5 Bold Predictions For Patriots 2020 NFL Season

Getty Cam Newton

We’ve seen plenty of things happen during the disjointed and COVID-19 impaired New England Patriots offseason and training camp. We’re now less than 10 days away from the start of the 2020 NFL season, and I have five bold predictions for the upcoming season.

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J.C. Jackson Will Surpass Jason McCourty and Stephon Gilmore as the Best Patriots CB

Am I predicting a falloff from Jason McCourty and Stephon Gilmore? Not a major one. This is more about the continuing improvement and recognition Jackson is earning and receiving. Let’s be honest, many may argue Jackson is already better than McCourty.

The 6’1″ 24-year-old has relatively quietly had two strong seasons in the NFL with three interceptions as a rookie and another five in 2019. There is no question, Jackson has benefited from being a part of a great secondary. He gets tons of opportunities because some quarterbacks would rather work away from Gilmore.

However, Jackson’s metrics and statistics don’t lie. He has the size and physical ability to be among the best in the NFL at his position, and he ranked No. 2 in 2019 behind Gilmore in an amalgamated coverage metric by NFL.com’s Nick Shook.

Also, Jackson was No. 1 in the NFL in 2019 in completion percentage against:

When you consider he’s just entering his prime and still improving as he plays alongside future Hall-of-Famer Gilmore, Jackson is primed for a huge season that will many wondering and believing he is now the team’s best cornerback.

Cam Newton Will Win Comeback Player of the Year and Finish in the Top 5 in MVP Voting

This prediction is based almost entirely on Newton’s health. If he remains healthy and doesn’t miss more than two games, there is no question in my mind, the Patriots win 11 games and Newton galvanizes an offense desperate for the energy and versatility he brings to a team.

Newton hasn’t been officially named the starter, but most expect that announcement to come soon. Meanwhile, he’s drawing raves from his teammates and coaches–including Bill Belichick.

When you consider the Patriots don’t have a ton of explosive offensive weapons, and that Newton’s running ability could be huge for the team’s attack, a season with 3,500 yards passing, 700 yards rushing, 40 total touchdowns, and 10 or fewer turnovers seems very possible.

Couple that stat-line with an 11-5 record, another AFC East title, and Newton would likely be the odds-on favorite for Comeback Player of the Year, and he’d be in every sensible MVP conversation.

Gunner Olszewski Will Replace Julian Edelman as the Team’s Top Slot Option and Punt Returner

I’m not sure when I’ve seen a receiver grow so much from one season to the next. Gunner Olszewski showed some flashes in training camp last season, but he showed up this year on a mission.

Olszewski looks bigger, stronger, faster, and even more confident. I don’t believe Edelman’s skills will decline drastically, but I worry about him staying healthy throughout the entire season.

If he finds himself on the sidelines or compromised more than normal, Olszewski is a guy who can step into his role(s) and surprise people.

Josh Uche Will Lead the Patriots in Sacks

The Patriots defense doesn’t usually produce a ton of double-digit sack guys, and that probably won’t change in 2020.

Last year’s leaders in sacks (Jamie Collins, Sr. and Kyle Van Noy) are gone. Some expect Chase Winovich to emerge as a major threat in this category. That’s not a crazy concept, but I’ve loved what I’ve seen from Uche in college, and what we’ve heard about him in training camp.

His explosiveness and bend around the edge make him a solid candidate as a pass-rushing option, and he’s perfectly suited to add his share of sacks as a blitzing linebacker from the inside. His versatility and the ability to get to the quarterback from multiple spots have me believing he’ll have the biggest season of all Patriots rookies.

Damien Harris Will Lead the Patriots in Rushing

Sony Michel has led the Patriots in rushing each of the last two seasons, but I believe he will give way to Damien Harris in 2020. Michel has battled injuries dating back to college and it appears as though the wear and tear might be catching up to him in the NFL as well.

Meanwhile, Harris has looked great in training camp, and his ability as a north-south runner should perfectly suit what the Patriots like to do in the run game. You heard it here first, my prediction is that he leads the team in rushing in 2020.

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