Curran and Perry's official 2023 Patriots predictions originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Before all of the action, our Patriots insiders Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry shared their official predictions for the campaign. From the Patriots' final record to the fatal flaw that could ultimately cost them, here's what they had to say...
What's the Patriots' record after the first four games?
Curran: "I'm going to give an optimistic look and it's 2-2. They take out Miami and they take out the Cowboys. They might actually get to 3-1 because I'm touch and go on them taking out the Jets."
Perry: "I have them going 1-3 in the first month of the season. That's a problem, because this ain't the Tom Brady-era Patriots where you knew if you had a bad September you were still going to be in the mix by the very end."
Which player will pleasantly surprise offensively?
Perry: "Kendrick Bourne. Eight hundred yards two years ago, I think he's gonna be in the mix for a 1,000-yard season this season. He is their X-factor offensively this year."
Curran: "Ezekiel Elliott is mine. ... He's still good."
Which player will pleasantly surprise defensively?
Perry: "I'm going to go with Christian Gonzalez here. I know there's a lot of high hopes for him because he's a first-round pick, but we've seen first-round picks whether it's Patrick Surtain, Jaycee Horn, Sauce Gardner obviously -- I don't know if he's going to reach that level. But they have proven that you can step into the league and be a more-than-competent, a borderline elite corner from Day 1. I think he's going to approach that this year."
Curran: "I'm going to say Jabrill Peppers. He's going to have a borderline Pro Bowl season. He is going to be the straw that stirs this defense's drink at the back end, bringing attitude, violence, and some swagger back there."
What's the Patriots' fatal flaw that could ultimately cost them?
Perry: "The fatal flaw is going to be specifically, in my opinion, the right tackle position. I think there are some ways you can coach around what you have at your tackle spots, but they're too important to just try to get by with band-aid solutions for an entire season. I think it's really going to limit them at times in terms of what they can call and how comfortable they are on third down. You have to be able to win on third down in this league to have any kind of success. I think that right tackle spot could really limit them."
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Curran: "I'm going to go a little bit more in-depth. I'm going to say it's straight-out red zone inefficiency again. I just don't think they have enough weapons down there who are uncontrollable. They're versatile -- you can give it to Zeke, you can give it to Rhamondre (Stevenson), you can probably even get a little whip route with Demario Douglas or Kayshon Boutte, who I think is going to be better than people think. Maybe you want to try something with Hunter Henry. Maybe you want to try a lob to our guy (Mike) Gesicki.
"All of those things are going to work, but none of them is a bread-and-butter. And as a result, you're still going to see the Patriots flounder in the red zone, and that's going to cost them."
What will be their final record?
Curran: "They're going to the playoffs. They are 10-7."
Perry: "I'm going 9-8."
You can watch Curran and Perry's complete 2023 Patriots season preview below: