The 2016 NFL schedule officially was released Thursday night, quickly followed by a slew of season predictions, previews and look-aheads.
ESPN.com New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss immediately unveiled his early Pats predictions, pegging New England as an 11-5 team that will lose to the Arizona Cardinals in the season opener, the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7, the Buffalo Bills in Week 8, the New York Jets in Week 12 and the Denver Broncos in Week 15.
The Patriots lost to the Jets once and to the Broncos twice last season.
Notable Patriots victories in Reiss’ model includes ones over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6, the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14 and the Seattle Seahawks in a Week 10 rematch of Super Bowl XLIX.
Though 11-5 is a perfectly respectable mark for most teams — and one that ESPN.com’s team of experts predict will allow Bill Belichick’s squad to secure its 13th AFC East title in 14 years — it actually would be the worst finish by any Patriots team since 2009. New England posted a 14-2 record in 2010, went 13-3 in 2011 and finished each of the last four regular seasons 12-4.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller
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