The New England Patriots are coming off a disappointing loss in the 2019 playoffs. The Tennessee Titans held the Tom Brady led Patriots to just 13 points and beat them in the Wild Card round. This is the first time the Patriots played in the Wild Card round since 2009, in a game that they also lost. The Patriots have dominated the AFC East for the past 20 years, and were looking at a potentially disappointing 2020 season. The Buffalo Bills are looking like a serious playoff threat, and the Patriots have lost a lot of significant players in this past offseason. Their losses include Tom Brady, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, and Duron Harmon, on top of other depth players. New England was looking weak heading into the 2020 season, but things took a turn for the better at the end of June.
Mastermind coach Bill Belicheck signed Cam Newton to a contract with less guaranteed money than most kickers. Although Newton has not been fully healthy in years, he's had a lot of time to recover from those injuries as he has not started a game since week two of the 2019 season. If Cam Newton is healthy, this may be one of the biggest free agent steals in NFL history. The last time Cam was healthy, he was an MVP and led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl. Cam isn't the only move the Patriots made in the offseason. They added a couple receivers for depth in Marquise Lee and Damiere Byrd and they added a couple safeties to replace Harmon in Adrian Phillips Cody Davis. The team doesn't look entirely complete, but there don't appear to be any glaring holes outside of the tight end position, which they covered in the draft with Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. New England also drafted two outside linebackers in an attempt to replace Kyle Van Noy with Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings. The Patriots were beginning to look like they were going into a rebuild, but it appears as if they're only reloading. Can this team make the playoffs though?
The AFC East is one of the weaker divisions in the NFL as they are brought down by the rebuilding Dolphins and struggling Jets. The only real threat is the Buffalo Bills, which the Patriots have dominated over the past couple decades. The Bills have only beat the Patriots four times since Bill Belicheck began coaching in New England. He knows how to scheme against them and could very easily continue his head-to-head dominance.
Assuming Cam Newton is healthy, his mobility will help the offensive line look better than it did last season. Cam has played with a good amount of below average receivers in his career, so the weapons New England has shouldn't be an issue. The Patriots have solid receivers in N'Keal Harry, Julian Edelmen, Marquise Lee, Damiere Byrd, and Mohamed Sanu. Cam Newton would also have the option of throwing to James White out of the backfield. The supporting cast around Newton should be more than enough to take to the playoffs, especially in a weak AFC East.
Not only should the offense look better this season, New England still has a great defense. The secondary may be the best in the league with Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Jason McCourty. The rest of the defense doesn't look amazing, but they have a lot of young potential. Chase Winovich should take a huge leap in year two and rookies Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings were studs in college and could carry that talent into the NFL. Not to mention Dont'a Hightower is still a quality starter.
The New England Patriots have reloaded instead of undergoing the rebuild we all thought they would. Now led by Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore, the new look Patriots are an exciting story to pay attention to. The biggest threat to the Patriots is the Bills, which they have historically dominated. As long as their key pieces stay healthy, the Patriots can never be counted out of playoff contention. There is a very good chance they keep the Bills under control and win the division for themselves.