Where ESPN Ranks Patriots Among Least Improved Teams Entering 2020 Season

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The Patriots’ offseason by no means was a total disaster, but New England didn’t exactly knock it out of the park over the course of the spring either.

While the addition of Cam Newton has clouded the narrative, most likely would have issued the Patriots a failing grade for their offseason efforts as a whole. They lost the greatest player in franchise history, as well as a handful of key members of what was a stout defense in 2019. New England addressed several of its pressing needs in the draft, but it remains to be seen if those players will make positive impacts in their first NFL seasons.

In turn, ESPN views Patriots as one of the least improved teams heading into the 2020 campaign. In an improvement power ranking column published Wednesday, the network listed New England at 28, only above the Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams.

“The loss of a six-time Super Bowl champion and three-time league MVP at quarterback cannot be understated, but that’s not where the story ends for New England’s roster turnover,” Mike Clay wrote for ESPN.com. “Van Noy, Collins, Harmon and Shelton combined to play 2,622 regular-season snaps for a team carried by its dominant defense last season. They’ll be replaced by rookies (Uche, Dugger and Anfernee Jennings) and journeymen (Allen, Phillips and Brandon Copeland). Watson, Newhouse, Dorsett and Karras all played at least 450 offensive snaps last season, though David Andrews’ return to health offsets the latter.”

Not only will the Patriots enter the new campaign with a marginally improved roster, they also face arguably the league’s toughest regular-season schedule in 2020. New England effectively was a shoo-in for the AFC East crown year in and year out over the past decade-plus, but winning the division will be an uphill climb this season, to say the least.

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