Monday, September 12, 2011

Patriots 2011 The Schedule: Where Are The Losses?

So here goes another fearless attempt to predict the Patriots record, including my best try at predicting each game as a win or loss.  As always, the season is broken up into four, four-game quarters.

First Quarter:

The season starts with a bang, a prime-time game against the Dolphins in Miami on Monday night. The first game can be tough to figure out, because teams show so little in the preseason.  But Miami quarterback Chad Henne has just one decent game against the Patriots, and in the battle of surprise innovations from the off-season, Albert Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis, and Andre Carter trump Reggie Bush.  Give the game to the Pats.

They follow with the Chargers at home on a short week. Normally a very tough thing, especially against a talented offense like the San Diego. But the Patriots talent upgrade on the defensive line and at cornerback should be enough to slow down the passing attack of Phillip Rivers. Besides, Norv Turner might be the least prepared coach when the season starts, so the Patriots should win, but a close one.

Thankfully the Bills game is in Buffalo, because the Patriots just feast on the defense there. The Bills last beat the Patriots in 2003, here are the scores from Buffalo since then: 31-17, 35-7, 28-6, 56-10, 13-0, 17-10, 34-3. Buffalo actually plays the Patriots tougher in Foxboro, so expect a win here, even with head coach Chan Gailey's revamped offense.

The Pats travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders next. The Raiders will turn this into a dogfight, because they get after the passer well and like to run the ball. However, they face a beefed up defensive line, and they don't have Nnamdi Asomugha to shut down one side of the field. On the other hand, the game is sandwiched between two division games for the Patriots, all of which makes it a difficult game to figure. But something tells me Bill Belichick has a few tricks up his sleeve for Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell, so a close one but a Patriots win.

Second Quarter:

Next up is a home game against the Jets, and frankly it looks like a win. New York plays Rex Ryan's old team, the Baltimore Ravens, the week before, and that will be an emotionally draining one where he pulls out all the stops for the win. And the Ravens are a tough, physical team, the Jets second in two weeks (they play the Raiders in Oakland the week before). Depending on how the Patriots new secondary gels, this could be a blowout, but don't expect that.

Then comes a very dangerous game. The Cowboys have a bye week and then stop by Foxboro for a 4:15 game. Here's the reason for concern -- remember that Rob Ryan (Rex's brother) is the defensive coordinator for Dallas. And the last time he had two weeks to prepare for the Patriots, his Cleveland Browns handed the Pats a 34-14 loss (just last year, in fact). There is nothing other than that to indicate a Cowboys victory, but I'm predicting one anyway. Last year at this time I thought the Browns would be no problem, but when I realized the situation closer to the day I re-thought it and warned people to be careful of the Browns. We'll see how it works out this time.

Pats have a bye, and then face the Steelers in Pittsburgh. As usual, they will prevail -- Tom Brady owns the Steelers, home, away, regular season, and playoffs. Besides the Steelers play their nemesis (the Ravens) the next week, and they'll be distracted by that division tilt more than they should.

The Giants visit Foxboro the next week, for a rematch of Super Bowl XLII. Whether or not the Patriots have revenge on their minds, the Giants defense is a mass of injuries and their receiving corps is sub-par. Looks like another win... but then so did that Super Bowl :(

Third Quarter:

Jets at home, a team desperate to beat the Patriots and validate all their coach's tough talk -- it is tough to sweep division foes who are evenly matched. New York plays four days later in Denver, and they will probably lose that one, but Ryan puts everything into this game and gets the win over the Patriots.

Patriots over the Chiefs in a Foxboro Monday Night game is one of the easier predictions of the schedule. Kansas City has a tough division game the week before, and the Patriots are a superior team. Bill Belichick also knows a thing or two about how to stop the KC quarterback -- some guy named Matt Cassel; maybe you heard of him.

Pats then travel on a short week to face the Eagles and their ultra-talented secondary and explosive offense. Short week, on the road, facing a great defensive secondary and offensive play-makers all of the field -- so why do I feel like the Patriots will win this one? Philly has a division prime time game the week before and a Thursday night road game in Seattle after. And the Patriots have essentially bye weeks before and after (against Kansas City and a Manningless Indy). And something tells me that Michael Vick won't be running much against Vince Wilfork, Albert Haynesworth, and company. I'm going with my gut -- Patriots win.

The Colts come to Gillette next, and without Peyton Manning (or with a just-returned Manning) there is no way Indy leaves with a win. Etch this one in stone, Pats victory.

Fourth Quarter:

Like Oakland before them, Washington has consecutive home games against the Jets and Patriots. In both cases, that's a tough row to hoe, and they follow the Patriots game with a critical division game against the Giants. Rex Grossman should be Rex Grossman by then (with his 0-1 record and zero touchdowns and 3 interceptions against the Patriots). Pats should get the win.

New England never beats the Broncos in Denver -- mostly doesn't matter how talented each team is or who is coaching them. So mark down a loss on December 18. And make other plans for the day, unless you are a hardcore fan there's no reason to watch the Pats falter there again.

The Miami Dolphins show up after that for their annual wintertime slaughter at the hands of their more talented division foe.

And the Bills have  only one chance to win the last game of the season -- if it means nothing to the Patriots. Otherwise, Chan Gailey's offense will be grounded by bad weather and the Patriots, who thrive in bad conditions, should prevail.


So that looks like a 13-3 finish, and 14-2 if they take care of business against the Cowboys. Anything north of 12-4 virtually guarantees a playoff berth, so they are in good shape to return to the post-season, injuries and the unexpected notwithstanding.

Statistical Oddity of the Week: Rex Ryan lost two AFC Championship Games in the last two years. The Patriots haven't lost that many in franchise history -- losing just once in 51 years. Congratulations, Rex!!

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS.  0-0!


  1. Scott, why couldn't they cover the spread for my pro pick 'em league? Also, good write ups at

  2. Sorry they didn't do it for you, Martin. Point spreads are tough to figure week-to-week -- they nailed it against the Chiefs but couldn't hold on against the Colts.

    My recommendation: bet on teams' total-wins over/under before the season. The spread is unpredictable, but if you pay attention, you can do pretty well betting season-wins over/under.

    Thanks for reading and be well.