The storylines and speculation outside the confines of Gillette Stadium continue to be pessimistic regarding the 2023 New England Patriots.

Many will point to the fact the AFC East looks as deep as it has in decades, or to New England’s roster that seemingly has holes at key positions like receiver and offensive tackle, or a giant Mac Jones-related question mark.

And writer Adam Schein believes all those aspects could cause the Patriots to miss the playoffs next season, and ultimately lead to the departure (read: firing) of head coach Bill Belichick. Schein included it in his nine “bold predications” of the upcoming campaign.

“I think the Bills and Jets each win at least 11 games, while the Dolphins hit double digits. The Patriots? Feels like 7-10 or 8-9, and that’s actually a credit to Bill Belichick’s brain,” Schein wrote. “No disrespect to the best coach in football history, but this roster is a distant fourth in the AFC East. Mac Jones is average, at best. His receiving corps is subpar. Belichick’s defense will be typically solid, but you need firepower in this stacked AFC.

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“Back in March, New England owner Robert Kraft said it’s ‘very important’ the Patriots return to the playoffs. What happens when they finish in the AFC East cellar for the first time since Belichick’s first season in New England? It becomes his last season in New England.”

The Patriots have not finished last in the division in 22 years, the second-longest active streak behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers (34), as pointed out by ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Should the Patriots fall back into that position, it arguably would be the lowest of low points in Belichick’s tenure.

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