Max Kellerman a few weeks ago predicted the Patriots will win the AFC East in the upcoming NFL season.
That’s a fairly bold take in itself. But as it turns out, Kellerman’s hopes for New England are even higher than that.
Kellerman and the rest of Thursday’s “First Take” panel were tasked with picking a Super Bowl LVI dark horse team. The well-known talking head opted for the Patriots, as he’s expecting to see a highly motivated Bill Belichick and a rejuvenated Cam Newton in 2021.
“I’m going to take a real dark horse team. Like, a team no one is taking to win the Super Bowl. You want a dark horse? Try the New England Patriots. Try the Patriots on for size,” Kellerman said on ESPN. “Take a team with a head coach and GM with something to prove in Bill Belichick. The GOAT with something to prove. …Take a team that last year came two plays away — Bobby Wagner made a play on the goal line on Cam, Cam got stripped against Buffalo. Two plays away from a 9-7 record in a year where they had a brand new quarterback opposite of the kind of quarterback they used to have. A guy coming off a catastrophic injury and hadn’t played in a year. A guy playing for a team whose defense lost nine guys to defections because of COVID before the season started.
“Practice facilities got shut down because of COVID. They had no time to practice. Bill Belichick couldn’t prepare, right, and Cam couldn’t learn because no preseason, no practice and then Cam Newton got COVID. Cam, the former MVP Cam, who’s been to a Super Bowl Cam. Who, before he got hurt, was having the best passing year of his career with Norv Turner as his OC Cam. They didn’t have tight ends last year. Bill Belichick’s whole offense is predicated on tight ends. They went out and got Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. How many guys did they sign? Wideouts, tight ends, the defense is back. The Patriots are a true darkhorse.”
Kellerman might be a bit over his skis, as there’s a chance Newton isn’t under center for the Patriots next month. The opportunity to win the starting quarterback job appears to be there for rookie Mac Jones.