Analytics expert Cynthia Frelund expects the 2021 Patriots to be improved from a season ago, but not significantly.
In wake of the official 2021 NFL regular-season schedule release, Frelund projected the win totals for all 32 teams. Remember, all clubs will play 17 games — not 16 — before the start of the playoffs.
For the Patriots, Frelund reached a figure of 9.2, the eighth-highest mark in the AFC.
“I have no idea when rookie quarterback Mac Jones will start, but I do know the Patriots have a stretch from Week 5 to Week 7 that looks like the most favorable entry point of the season (at the Texans, vs. the Cowboys, vs. the Jets) for Jones,” Frelund wrote for NFL.com. “This projected win total reflects Jones starting at least eight games in 2021.”
Eight starts for Jones in the upcoming campaign probably is ambitious. In fact, the first-round pick might not make a single start as a rookie. Bill Belichick has made it clear Cam Newton will be New England’s QB1 until someone outplays him. And even if Jones shows promise in training camp and practices, the Patriots might elect to take it slow with their potential QB of the future.
Regardless, New England’s 2020 schedule is far from brutal. The Patriots’ 2021 opponents posted a combined record below .500 last season. Belichick’s team, at least on paper, also is much improved from 2020, so we very well could see the Pats exceed Frelund’s expectation.