The 18 month battle between Tom Brady and the NFL, known as “Deflategate”, has finally come to an end. Brady, writing a short message to his fans on his Facebook page, thanked the Krafts, Belichick, his teammates, his family, and the loyal Patriot fans. Although Brady never lost the support from his fans and teammates, there was no convincing the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn their previous decision in suspending Brady for the first four games of the season.
The Patriots will look to overcome their first four games without Brady since 2008, when backup quarterback Matt Cassel led the Brady-less Patriots to a solid 11-5 record. This time, it will be third year backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo stepping into the spotlight to lead the Pats in their first four games against NFC powerhouse Arizona Cardinals, division rivals Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, and the AFC South’s Houston Texans with new starting QB Brock Osweiler.
Life without Brady will certainly not come easy for the Patriots or their fans as the quarterback led the NFL in multiple passing categories last year including passing yards and touchdowns. But with the help of the new additions of Martellus Bennet, Nate Washington, and Donald Brown joining veterans Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, Garoppolo should have plenty of targets to choose from.
Although there are many factors that can play into the first few games of the season, from now until then we will take a quick look to see how the Patriots will do from week 1 to 4.
Week 1- @Arizona Cardinals
Garoppolo will get his first “real start” in an NFL game where Brady isn’t on the sidelines helping him. So this will be a great indicator on how the Patriots will do without Brady. Arizona’s staunch defense with added defensive end and familiar face Chandler Jones will definitely give Jimmy G fits in the pocket. But if Garoppolo can manage to escape the pass rush, then he gets the wonderful pleasure of throwing the ball toward a talented secondary, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. This will be too much for the inexperienced QB and the Patriots will drop game 1, 28-17.
Week 2- Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins always seem to beat the Patriots once a season. But it usually never comes in New England. You will see more confidence and comfort from Garoppolo, playing a much easier defense. The Patriots will take Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill off his game and grab their first W of the season, 34-24.
Week 3- Houston Texans
Former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien will take his Texans into Foxboro with a fair amount of knowledge of what Josh McDaniels will be trying to do with Garoppolo. But the defense will not have what it takes to stop him. The lack of secondary talent will pose no threat to Garoppolo, and returning left tackle Nate Solder will keep defensive end J.J. Watt out of the backfield, giving Jimmy plenty of time to throw. With that being said, the final score will be Patriots 28-Texans 14.
Week 4- Buffalo Bills
Familiar coaching rival Rex Ryan will come into the Patriots third straight game at Gillette Stadium with a brilliant defensive scheme to throw Jimmy out of his groove. It will be a defensive battle won in the trenches, but the newly revamped front end of the Patriots will not hold up for a third straight game. LeSean McCoy will have a big day on the ground while the Bills win 27-24.
The 2-2 Patriots will travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns. However, this time the Pats will be with 4-time Super Bowl Champion and 2-time NFL MVP Tom Brady at the helm. He’ll have four games of anger and intensity built up, so expect a big day out of him.
Stay tuned for more updates on the Patriots and Tom Brady.
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