As a Patriots fan, Super Bowl LII was one of the most disappointing games of football I had ever watched (which is extra unfortunate coming off of Super Bowl LI, the best game I've ever watched.)
If you want some insight into how much of a Patriots fan I am, here's my reaction to the James White GW TD in LI:
If we even had a speck of defense, I think Tom Brady would have won us that Super Bowl, throwing for over 500 yards, three TDs, and no interceptions.
Nonetheless, that season is over and the Patriots are looking to get back to the Super Bowl and finish up what needs to be done: get Tom Brady a sixth ring. Here's a preview of this season game by game, giving a prediction for each match-up.
Week 1: vs Texans W 34-16
The Texans once again have a great squad this year, led by the 2nd year QB Deshaun Watson. The Texans defense has been among the best in the NFL for the past few season, but the Patriots have won the last seven meetings between the two teams. Patriots roll.
Week 2: @ Jaguars L 24-17
This is the revenge game for Jalen Ramsey and the Jaguars. Especially with it being in Jacksonville, this will be a tough game for Brady and co. I like the Jaguars in this one, but it all depends on if the Patriots defense can contain Leonard Fournette and force Blake Bortles to make good throws throughout the game.
Week 3: @ Lions W 31-10
Former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia jumped ship for the head coaching gig in Detroit, but Patricia's team is still very much a work in progress. Business as usual for the Patriots as they take the W.
Week 4: vs Dolphins W 24-14
The Dolphins get Ryan Tannehill back, and also brought in Frank Gore in the offseason to compete with Kenyan Drake. However, the Patriots have one the last nine contests played in Foxboro, and I don't expect that to change.
Week 5: vs Colts W 31-21
The Patriots-Colts rivalry has been a must-watch ever since Peyton Manning took over in Indianapolis, and this year's match-up will all depend on the ability of Andrew Luck. If he's back 100% and is the Andrew Luck we all know and love, this game will be insanely close. I think, at least for this year, he'll be around 80%, which is still good enough to make the playoffs, but probably not good enough to beat Tom Brady.
Week 6: vs Chiefs W 38-17
The Chiefs have essentially had the Patriots number for the past few years, including last year's 42-27 New England home opener. I look for the Patriots to really attempt to pressure young Pat Mahomes, and try to not give up any big plays to Tyreek Hill. I could easily see this one flipping, but it's all about if the Pats can get pressure on Mahomes.
Week 7: @ Bears W 41-10
The Bears certainly have a lot of pieces on their offense, but they are still in rebuilding mode. Mitch Trubisky and Jordan Howard and are expected back, but unless they are both incredibly improved, I don't see this one being very close.
Week 8: @ Bills W 24-21
This game in Buffalo has ALWAYS been a trap game for the Patriots, no matter how good the Bills are in any given year. I'd assume that Josh Allen is starting by this time, even if AJ McCarron is ready to go from Week 1. Patriots will have to be on alert here.
Week 9: vs Packers W 41-38
Possibly the biggest matchup of the entire NFL season, the best two QBs in the league meet up for what will assuredly be a high scoring contest. This might be one of those games where the team who has the football last will win. Give me the Foxboro home crowd, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick's gameplanning over the greatness of Aaron Rodgers. Expect a last-second Gostkowski field goal for the win.
Week 10: @ Titans W 24-10
The Titans gave the Patriots a momentary scare in the 2018 Divisional Playoff round, and I wasn't surprised. The Titans have a legit QB in Marcus Mariota and I think Derrick Henry is vastly underrated. Still give me the Patriots, but it will be a hard fought game.
Week 12: @ Jets W 28-10
Just like Buffalo, this is always a trap game for the Patriots. The Jets always come to play in front of a packed stadium in New York. If Sam Darnold is as legit as he's hyped up to be, look out. Still, the Patriots have won five of the last seven in New York, and I think the Jets offensive line will be their downfall.
Week 13: vs Vikings W 34-31
Another huge matchup, and possibly as big as the Packers game, the Vikings are looking to prove that their defense and new QB, Kirk Cousins, are Super Bowl quality. This really could be a Super Bowl preview right here.
The key to this game will be if the Patriots can contain Dalvin Cook on the ground and turn it into a passing battle. The Patriots are at their weakest when teams are running the ball well against them, and if the Vikings can do that, I'd like them. However, with the Patriots excellent defensive line, I think the Patriots barely squeak this one out.
Week 14: @ Dolphins L 31-17
It's very possible that coming off a big game against Minnesota that the team feels a little bit of a hangover. The Dolphins have won four of the last five in Miami, and last year the Dolphins controlled the game for all four quarters, showing some great defense along the way. I wouldn't be surprised if it happened again.
Week 15: @ Steelers L 28-24
The Steelers felt robbed after a late Jesse James touchdown was called back and a ridiculous decision to fake spike the ball lead to an interception that sealed the game. You better believe the Steelers are looking for revenge, and I think they get it this year. This game could have serious playoff seeding implications, so this is once again a huge match-up.
Week 16: vs Bills W 35-14
The Patriots are solid at home vs the Bills, and the Belichick teams always gel really well by the end of the year. Solid Pats win.
Week 17: vs Jets W 31-21
Depending on whether or not this game has seeding implications, Tom Brady might not play. I think the Patriots will have to win this game to get a one seed, and that's why I think he does play and the Patriots roll to a win.
Overall Record: 13-3
Going into the postseason, the Patriots main competitors are the Steelers and Jaguars. If the Patriots can secure home-field advantage, I far and away like the Patriots to move on to the Super Bowl for the third straight year. If not, the Steelers or Jaguars could very well turn the tables.
If the Patriots are fortunate to move on the Super Bowl LIII, I think they'll face either the Eagles or the Vikings. I don't see the Patriots defense being as horrid as it was in LII, and I know Tom Brady will be his usual Super Bowl self. I won't full-on say that the Patriots will win the Super Bowl this year, but I would go as far to say that they have the best chance.