The New England Patriots’ run of being a year-in, year-out Super Bowl contender has been put on hold — for now.
(According to ESPN, anyway.)
The Worldwide Leader on Monday published its NFL Future Power Rankings, which used a points system to assess a given franchise’s prospects over the next three seasons. A panel of NFL experts graded teams across five categories, which then were weighted to deliver an overall score. It’s important to note that the polling was conducted before Cam Newton signed with the Patriots.
Here’s how the grading system breaks down:
100: A+ (Elite)
90: A (Great)
80: B (Very good)
70: C (Average)
60: D (Very bad)
50 and below: F (Disastrous)
Now, let’s look at how the Patriots fared in each category, along with how those scores compared to those of other NFL teams:
Overall roster (minus QB): 74.5 (NFL rank: 21)
Quarterback: 66.0 (NFL rank: 30)
Coaching: 99.0 (NFL rank: 1)
Draft: 74.0 (NFL rank: 20)
Front office: 91.3 (NFL rank: 1)
Overall: 80.1 (NFL rank: 13)
Those aren’t horrible numbers, but they do represent depressed confidence in New England’s chances of maintaining its dynasty without Tom Brady under center.
ESPN’s panelists weighed in, with the general consensus being that New England’s uncertainty at quarterback, coupled with the unlikelihood of its defense sustaining last season’s dominance, prevents it from being considered an elite franchise at this juncture. However, there is some optimism that, if the underrated offense receives a boost from a potentially improved N’Keal Harry, among others, the Patriots will compete near or at their usual level.
From Field Yates:
“The Patriots begin a new era without Tom Brady, which leads into the potential start of the Cam Newton era after he was signed in late June. Coach Bill Belichick is the best coach in football history, and the Patriots will remain as prepared and situationally sound as any team in the league. Combine that with Newton’s dynamic skill set and motivation to bounce back after an injury-shortened 2019 and watch out for New England to once again make noise in January.”
Ultimately, this was a fair ranking by ESPN. The Patriots carry a ton of question marks into this season, which follows a campaign in which the team looked old, slow and, frankly, void of high-end talent.
But, as ESPN alluded to, the Patriots aren’t that far away and could be a great team if they get above-average quarterback play. Plus, doubting Bill Belichick and Co. never is a good idea.