Week 13: vs. New England Patriots
Letting Brady test free agency has ultimately defined the Patriots’ offseason. There’s a lot of talk around who the new starting quarterback will be. Reportedly, the Patriots are pretty high on Jarrett Stidham. They’ve also brought back veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer.
Despite all the talk about Brady’s departure, the Patriots still have a defense that’s capable of carrying them. Stephon Gilmore is still one of the best cornerbacks in the league, along with the McCourty brothers in the secondary. Chase Winovich, Dont’a Hightower, and new draft pick Josh Uche will have an impact on the second level.
What to watch for: How does the Bill Belichick–Josh McDaniels offense look in the post-Brady era? The Patriots didn’t really address a lot of needs on offense in the offseason, other than retaining some of their own players. New England’s defense is tough, but the jury is still out on some of their offensive skill players.
In a close one, the LA Chargers take a loss here. The Patriots still have an elite defense and Belichick is able to coach around the offense’s shortcomings. The Chargers have never been able to get proper pressure on the quarterback in their match-ups vs. the New England.
Week 14: vs. Atlanta Falcons
When it comes to the NFC South, the Saints still run the division with the Buccaneers trying to chase them down. The Panthers are in a rebuild, while the Falcons might eventually be heading for one themselves.
Other than the ugly uniforms they unveiled, I’m not really a fan of their on the field offseason moves either. The two areas that really needed to be improved were the offensive line and the secondary. Matt Hennessy was a decent pickup, but A.J. Terrell was a pretty obvious reach. It wasn’t the worst offseason in the world, but it was a half measure when the Falcons needed more.
What to watch for: How do Hayward, Chris Harris, and Davis handle Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley? Those two are game-changers for the Falcons, despite how deprived of talent the team is at other positions.
On paper, this is just a tough one for the Falcons. Their weak offensive line runs into Bosa, Ingram, and Linval Joseph. It’s not much better for a rebuilding secondary going against Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.