The New England Patriots will be a very good football team this season. The New York Jets will be a very bad football team this season.
Now that we’ve established those inarguable assertions, let’s dig a little deeper into what 2017 should hold for the AFC East rivals.
We’ll start with the defending Super Bowl champions. The Patriots are loaded at virtually every position, and they somehow were able to upgrade on both sides of the ball in a rarely seen all-in type of offseason.
It’s going to be borderline impossible to stop New England when it has the football. As long as Tom Brady is healthy, the Patriots are going to put up points. But when you add the likes of Brandin Cooks, Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead to an offense already featuring Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, James White and Dion Lewis, it’s almost unfair.
The Patriots aren’t quite as strong on the defensive side of the ball, but when you’re able to roll out a secondary headlined by Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler, that’s pretty good.
It’s enough for folks in New England and across the league to wonder whether the Patriots have another 16-0 run — or 19-0, even — in them. Given that only one team has ever done that before, it seems the numbers aren’t in the Patriots’ favor. But look at the schedule. The Patriots should be favored in each and every one of their 16 games, and they probably aren’t going to be tested within the division.
Which brings us to the Jets. It’s been a nightmare offseason for New York. To say expectations are low would be an understatement. While the Patriots reloaded, the Jets’ offseason (and now training camp) has been dominated by drama and injuries. Brandon Marshall jumped ship to the Giants, and the Patriots threw salt on the wound by signing veteran linebacker David Harris.
The Jets’ offense has the potential to be historically bad. As it stands right now, every offensive touchdown they score will be a surprise. Josh McCown (and his 78.2 career passer rating with seven different teams) is slated as the starter, and backup Christian Hackenberg literally is struggling with breaking the huddle.
If the Jets are going to be successful at all, it’s going to have to be because of their defense. The early returns are encouraging, and New York’s defense has featured a handful of playmakers seemingly every season for the last decade or so.
But will that be able to make up for New York’s lack of offense? While the Jets theoretically should be playing an easier schedule than the Patriots, it’s hard to look at the slate and see much in the way of wins.
Week 4 at home against Jacksonville seems winnable. And there’s a Week 5 matchup with Cleveland, but that’s on the road and the Browns actually should be better this season. The rest of the AFC East teams not hailing from Foxboro are “meh” at best, so maybe there’s a divisional win somewhere. But if the Jets are 0-5 through five weeks, the 0-16 watch will start — if it hasn’t already.
Is it possible we might see two teams in the same division finish the season with 16-0 and 0-16 records, respectively? If not, which do you think is more likely, the Patriots go 16-0 or the Jets go 0-16?
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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