What Will Patriots’ Record Be During Tom Brady’s 4-Game Suspension?
Tom Brady finally saw the writing on the wall and will not continue his fight against an NFL-imposed four-game ban.
Brady will officially serve a four-game suspension starting in week one of the 2016 NFL season, a ban stemming from his perceived role in the Deflategate scandal.
— Coral (@Coral) July 15, 2016
Brady contested on his Facebook account that he does not deem himself as guilty, and thanked everyone who supported or helped him while he fought the league in court over the past year.
The suspension is happening, though, so the immediate next thought is how the New England Patriots will fare through the first four games of their schedule. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is slated to start under center, and he’ll be tasked with taking on the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills while Brady serves his suspension.
Brady will be eligible to return for New England’s fifth game of the year, an October 9th battle with the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland will likely feel his wrath on that Sunday, but the big question remains how the Pats will do with Jimmy G at the helm for those first four games. Let’s take a look at each matchup and gauge New England’s chances of winning:
Week 1 @ Cardinals
The harsh reality in this week one battle is the Pats might have been set up to lose even if Brady were under center.
He’s not, though, and former Pats pass rusher Chandler Jones could be ready to tee off on Jimmy Garoppolo, who will be making his first regular season start.
Jimmy G should have all preseason to get ready for this game, but nothing is going to prepare him for an intense Arizona defense in the desert. Add on Arizona’s explosive offense on top of it, and the odds are just not good that Garoppolo both avoids big mistakes and matches wits with Carson Palmer and co.
Verdict: Cardinals win, 31-17
Week 2 VS. Dolphins
After getting shutdown by the Cardinals on the road, Bill Belichick and company should be able to regroup back at home. Not only will Garoppolo be better in his second try, but the Pats will be at home against a weaker (and familiar) opponent.
Some experts do feel the Dolphins will be better than they were a year ago, but winning in Foxboro doesn’t come easy. Look for the Pats to run a ball control offense, limit Garoppolo’s mistakes and have the defense rattle Ryan Tannehill enough to get the win and get to 1-1.
Verdict: Patriots win, 27-20
Week 3 VS. Texans
This game will be a lot easier to gauge once we see what Garoppolo is made of through the first two games, but it’s going to be tough to pick against New England on the surface.
For one, they’re at home again, Jimmy Garoppolo’s confidence is likely growing and the team knows by now it may need to compensate for his lack of experience or polish.
Houston has a strong defense and some offensive weapons, but there’s no guarantee Brock Osweiler is their answer or that Lamar Miller will carve up the Pats’ defense. New England could still hold down the fort at their home base and force Osweiler into enough mistakes to put Jimmy G in a favorable spot.
Verdict: Patriots win, 20-13
Week 4 VS. Bills
New England could really lose all of these games, but the only home game they truly look to be in trouble in is probably this week four battle with Rex Ryan and the Bills.
Ryan still has questions to answer about Buffalo’s passing game and defense, but they very well could be a lot better in 2016. Buffalo did give New England a run for their money in two meetings last year, too, while Ryan could deliver a masterful game plan against an inexperienced passer like Garoppolo.
The game should be close and Garoppolo could have a shot late, but I expect a lot of blitzes and Ryan to force the young signal caller into too many mistakes.
Verdict: Bills win, 24-16
The Tom Brady suspension could be awful news for the Pats, but the way we look at it, New England is still well coached and very talented across the board. A 2-2 run through the first four weeks is not just doable, but pretty likely.
Having three of the first four games at Foxboro helps them a lot, while Garoppolo has some strong weapons at his disposal. If the defense and running game can step up, it’s still entirely possible the Pats go 3-1 during this stretch. Winning on the road in Arizona in week one, however, doesn’t seem likely at all.
Beyond this four-game stretch, the Pats (for the moment) still look like favorites to win the AFC East and are also the top Super Bowl odds take over at Bovada.
It will be interesting to see how long both bets stick that way, but with an angry Tom Brady returning after the ban, the league could be in for a rude awakening. All the Pats need to do until then is survive, and this schedule allows the strong possibility of that happening.
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