— I believe that the offense is going to be better in 2022 than we thought. (Shouldn’t be hard to do — after reading and listening to experts the last two weeks you’d think that Matt Patricia and Joe Judge were calling plays out of “Offensive Play calling for Dummies”. Remember those books? Did anybody ever admit to reading one?)
— I believe that the running game, complemented by the newly applied “Shanahan system,” will have to be the strength of the team for the 2022 Patriots to have success.
— I believe Damien Harris is going to replicate his 2021 campaign (more than 900 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns). Harris is in a contract year and I believe the Patriots will extend him before Halloween. He’s Mac’s buddy and in a year of transition for the sophomore quarterback, it would be cruel to take away one of his favorite (and more relied upon) guys.
— I believe Rhamondre Stevenson is going to be a beast between the tackles but isn’t going to be the pass catching threat that people want him to be. It always feels like we love the running back that is second on the depth chart because they flash in limited use. One of the greatest examples is the late Marion Barber III in Dallas. When he was backing up Julius Jones, Barber ran like he was Earl Campbell incarnate. But when he became the starter in Big D, he looked like Peyton Hillis after he got the Madden cover. Stevenson will be good, but I like him in a thunder and lightning pairing with Harris. While the passing game gets sussed out, the ground attack needs to be the backbone of the offense.
— I believe if Tyquan Thornton is healthy, he’ll contribute.
— I believe if Devante Parker is healthy, he’ll contribute.
— I believe if Hunter Henry is healthy, he’ll continue to be Mac Jones’ favorite target.
— I believe that with the restructuring (backloading) of his contract this week, that regardless of his play, 2022 will be the last in Foxborough for Jonnu Smith.
— I believe the offensive line is going to be in flux for most of the first two months of the season. They’ll find their roles around Halloween and, barring injuries, this should be a stout unit come the holidays.
— I believe Matthew Judon is going to put together a good, full season in 2022.
— I believe that Christian Barmore is going to be named to his first (of many) Pro Bowls.
— I believe that the secondary is going to be better in 2022 than it has any business being. (With the losses of JC Jackson and Stephon Gilmore, is there some Ewing theory potential for the Patriots’ young corners? Three of which are named Jones?)
— I believe penalties are going to continue to be an issue for this team in 2022.
— I believe we’re going to see the Patriots go 3-3 again in the AFC East. (Three wins: two against the Jets, one versus the Dolphins.)
— I believe the Patriots are going to start 1-3 again this year. (They’ll beat the Mitchell Trubisky-led Steelers in week 2 while dropping games at Miami, home against Baltimore and at Green Bay.)
— I believe they will then rip off five wins in the following six games: against the Lions, at Browns, against the Bears, at Jets, and against the Jets. (The one loss could come in week 9 when they host the Colts, but I’m not even sure about that one.)
— I believe the Pats will be 6-5 when they play the Vikings on Thanksgiving. Which kicks off a torrid holiday stretch: versus Bills, at Cardinals (they’ll be imploding by then), at Raiders, versus Cincinnati, versus Miami and at Buffalo. They’ll have to win four games at least, starting with the Vikings, to have a shot at the playoffs. Can they find them here? They have to beat Minnesota and Arizona on the road and Miami at home. Then they need to steal one against the Raiders, Bengals or one from the Bills.
Bill Belichick begins the 2022 season with 290 career regular season wins as a head coach. Will the 2022 Patriots get him the 10 wins he needs to get him to 300?