The New England Patriots had dominated the AFC East. However, things have changed.
Defending division champion Buffalo is the favorite to repeat according to the NFL predictions. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets made offseason moves that should make them even better in 2022 so New England making it to the playoffs again is no sure thing.
The schedule is pretty favorable even with games against Cincinnati and Green Bay.
The Patriots (+200) are tied for the second-best odds in the AFC East according to the Las Vegas odds. There are 11 AFC teams with better odds to win the Super Bowl than the Patriots (+4000).
2021 record: 10-7 (second in AFC East)
Playoff results: Lost to Buffalo 47-17
Season opener: at Miami, Sept. 11, 1 p.m. EDT
Playoff teams on 2022 schedule: HOME – Buffalo, Cincinnati; AWAY – Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Arizona, Buffalo, Las Vegas.
Key newcomers: WR Devante Parker, CB Malcolm Butler, S Jabrill Peppers, WR Ty Montgomery, LB Mack Wilson, OL Cole Strange (first-round pick); WR Tyquan Thornton (second-round pick), CB Marcus Jones (third-round pick).
Key losses: OL Shaq Mason, CB J.C. Jackson, DE Chase Winovich, RB Brandon Bolden, LB Kyle Van Noy, OL Ted Karras, QB Jarrett Stidham.
Award candidates: Tyquan Thornton, +4000 in NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year odds; Matthew Judon, +5000 in NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Mac Jones, +7000 in NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Damien Harris, +8000 in NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Marcus Jones, +10000 in NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds.
MacJones will look to build on an impressive rookie season as the Patriots’ starting quarterback. Those who bet online and believe in the Patriots as a playoff contender are putting their faith in Jones’ continued development.
The Patriots are hoping that former Miami Dolphins receiver Devante Parker who had 1,202 receiving yards during the 2019 season still has plenty left and he can give Jones another option to throw to. The Patriots also added former Baylor receiver Tyquan Thornton in the second round.
There will be plenty of depth at the running back position with the return of Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson and James White.
There are concerns on the offensive line after Shaq Mason was dealt to New England and Ted Karras signed with Cincinnati. The Patriots drew some criticism for using a late first-round pick on offensive lineman Cole Strange. Those naysayers will be silenced if he becomes a key contributor.
The New England defense returns its top three tacklers while Matt Judon had 12½ sacks in his first season with the Patriots. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower and cornerback J.C. Jackson will need to be replaced. Anybody who watched New England give up 47 points in a playoff loss to division rival Buffalo knows that there is some work to be done on that side of the ball.
Malcolm Butler was brought back to help at cornerback while Jabrill Peppers will give New England a playmaker either at safety or as a slot corner.
New England finished fourth in the NFL in total defense in 2021 and was second in passing defense. Jackson is one of the top cornerbacks in football and he does leave a hole in the secondary especially with division rival Miami acquiring Tyreek Hill in the offseason and the Jets drafting Garrett Wilson.
The linebacking group will look much different and they could hold a key to the success of the defense.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) June 7, 2022
New England deserves credit for returning to the playoffs with a rookie quarterback. The question is whether New England is a better team than it was at the end of the 2021 season.
New England hasn’t named an offensive coordinator after Josh McDaniels was hired as the new head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Time will tell if the departure of McDaniels will impact the growth of Jones as a quarterback.
Rookie Marcus Jones will add some explosiveness on the special teams as a returner. He could figure into the picture in the secondary as well. Christian Barmore, heading into his second season, could become a force in the interior of the New England defensive line.
With the first four games of the season coming against Miami, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Green Bay, it shouldn’t take long to figure out where the 2022 New England Patriots stand.