Game-by-game predictions for Patriots' pivotal 2023 season

Game-by-game predictions for Patriots' pivotal 2023 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

We've witnessed an entire training camp. We've taken a magnifying glass to three preseason games. We've assessed key injuries on the roster, identified strengths and highlighted weaknesses.

Let's look ahead to the games, shall we?

Time to take a deep breath and dive into our season-long, week-by-week predictions. Here goes nothin'.

Week 1: Philadelphia Eagles at Patriots, 4:25 p.m. ET

The Patriots defense was excellent against traditional running games in 2022 but was run all over by Justin Fields and Lamar Jackson. Jalen Hurts poses a similar problem... and he's surrounded by perhaps the best supporting cast of offensive talent in the league.

Plus, the Patriots offensive line is banged up, hasn't worked together all that much in practice, and has the tall task of taking on a daunting collection of Philly pass-rushers.

If ever there was a good time to meet the Eagles, it might be Week 1. The Patriots have had weeks to prep. But based on the amount of rust that may need to be knocked off Patriots offensive linemen, this could be a rough opener.

Final score: Eagles 28, Patriots 17

Patriots' record: 0-1

Week 2: Miami Dolphins at Patriots, 8:20 p.m. ET (Sunday Night Football)

Points could be hard to come by here. Vic Fangio's addition as Miami's defensive coordinator is perhaps the most underrated in the AFC East.

Meanwhile, Miami's offense had difficulty moving the ball late last season -- even with Tua Tagovailoa on the field. Was Mike McDaniel's offense solved? Was Tagovailoa just dealing with the repercussions of his head injuries? By Week 2, perhaps the Patriots line is healthier, they're able to run the football, and grind out a close one.

Final score: Patriots 17, Dolphins 16

Patriots' record: 1-1

Week 3: Patriots at New York Jets, 1 p.m. ET

Remember, there were hiccups early for Tom Brady in Tampa. I'm wondering if the same is the case for Aaron Rodgers in Jersey. As talented as the Jets are on both sides of the ball, they don't look like world-beaters based on what we've seen from Hard Knocks.

That's certainly not the be-all-end-all. But the coaching staff seems to be along for the ride here, and it could take a while for the Jets to hit their stride. This series feels like it's due for a split... and the Jets escape with meeting No. 1.

Final score: Jets 23, Patriots 20

Patriots' record: 1-2

Week 4: Patriots at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET

The Patriots finish up a daunting first month of the schedule with an offense that should be high-powered but will have a new look with new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and head coach Mike McCarthy running the show.

Predicting an excellent football game. Not an excellent result for the Patriots, who are done in here by a late-game sack from Micah Parsons.

Final score: Cowboys 24, Patriots 23

Patriots' record: 1-3

Week 5: New Orleans Saints at Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

The Saints might be the best team in the NFC South. That's not saying much.

Derek Carr is good enough to lead this team to a division crown, but he won't be good enough against the blitzes that Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo will send his way.

Final score: Patriots 26, Saints 17

Patriots' record: 2-3

Week 6: Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders, 4:05 p.m. ET

The Raiders made a lateral move at quarterback while increasing their injury risk there. Is Jimmy Garoppolo still playing come Week 6?

Jakobi Meyers may hurt his old club by being his old reliable self, but not enough. Chad Ryland gets on the board here with his first-ever game-winner.

Final score: Patriots 23, Raiders 20

Patriots' record: 3-3

Week 7: Buffalo Bills at Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

The Patriots showed late last season that they had a plan to limit Josh Allen's legs, holding him to 37 yards on 17 carries in two games.

But Stefon Diggs, when locked in, is still Stefon Diggs. Is Christian Gonzalez ready for that matchup?

Final score: Bills 30, Patriots 21

Patriots' record: 3-4

🔊 Patriots Talk: AFC East roundtable: Where do Mac, BB and Pats rank in the division in rivals' eyes? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Week 8: Patriots at Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET

The question will be whether Tua Tagovailoa is still healthy. If he is, and if the Dolphins get a warm day down in Miami, that could be what the home team needs to swing the game in its favor.

Final score: Dolphins 21, Patriots 19

Patriots' record: 3-5

Week 9: Washington Commanders at Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

Here's another game -- the first of two in a row -- that the Patriots simply cannot lose. They won't. Sam Howell is picked off twice in this one, and one is returned for a score by Kyle Dugger.

Final score: Patriots 28, Commanders 10

Patriots' record: 4-5

Week 10: Indianapolis Colts at Patriots, 9:30 a.m. ET (in Frankfurt, Germany)

If Anthony Richardson can replicate what Fields did to New England last season, then they'll have issues. But the Patriots will be better equipped to handle speedy quarterbacks this year -- perhaps rookie linebacker Marte Mapu is a part of that equation -- and they'll do enough to come back stateside with a win and a .500 record.

Final score: Patriots 31, Colts 23

Patriots' record: 5-5

Week 11: Bye

Week 12: Patriots at Giants, 1 p.m. ET

The Giants have a Week 13 bye this season. Good news for the Patriots. Brian Daboll will try to get his current team up to defeat his old one, but they'll be out of gas and looking forward to the break.

Final score: Patriots 28, Giants 17

Patriots' record: 6-5

Week 13: Los Angeles Chargers at Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

Justin Herbert very well could be on an MVP trajectory by this point in the season. Kellen Moore will help one of the game's best young passers reach greater heights... including in this matchup at Gillette.

Final score: Chargers 26, Patriots 20

Patriots' record: 6-6

Week 14: Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:15 p.m. ET (Thursday)

T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith will give Patriots offensive tackles a difficult game. Christian Barmore, Josh Uche, Matthew Judon and rookie Keion White will make a mess of a talent-deficient Steelers offensive line (even with first-round pick Broderick Jones in the mix). Sloppy game. Sloppy weather. Take the under.

Final score: Patriots 13, Steelers 10

Patriots' record: 7-6

Week 15: Kansas City Chiefs at Patriots, 8:15 p.m. ET (Monday)

JuJu Smith-Schuster Revenge Game! He won't be much of a factor in this one, though.

This game will be more about whether or not New England's deep stable of pass-rushers can crush-rush their way to bothering Patrick Mahomes. If they can be disciplined and disruptive, this one will be close.

Final score: Chiefs 27, Patriots 23

Patriots' record: 7-7

Week 16: Patriots at Denver Broncos, 8:15 p.m. (Sunday)

Jarrett Stidham Revenge Game! Kidding. Kind of. The former Patriots backup quarterback could very well be starting by this point in the season.

Whether it's him or Russell Wilson behind center, it won't matter. The Patriots will take this Christmas Eve affair, on the road, while Sean Payton works to establish something in Denver.

Final score: Patriots 24, Broncos 17

Patriots' record: 8-7

Week 17: Patriots at Bills, 1 p.m. ET

Is Rhamondre Stevenson fresh? The Patriots will need him to be in order to win the time-of-possession battle and keep this one tight.

If Ezekiel Elliott can stay healthy and take something off Stevenson's plate consistently over the course of the season, that'll help. It just might not be enough.

Final score: Bills 20, Patriots 17

Patriots' record: 8-8

Week 18: Jets at Patriots, TBD

This Jets experiment will go one of two ways. Either there's drama because there's finger-pointing and a big-personality quarterback whose coaches have no idea how to handle him. Or... it goes the Tom Brady route. And Rodgers isn't Brady.

We said this series was due for a split, didn't we? Here's that split.

Final score: Patriots 23, Jets 21

Patriots' record: 9-8

Will nine wins be enough to sneak into the playoffs in 2023? It would've been last year.

!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(a){if(void 0!["datawrapper-height"]){var e=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var t in["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<e.length;r++)if(e[r].contentWindow===a.source){var["datawrapper-height"][t]+"px";e[r].style.height=i}}}))}();