Patriots finish with losing record in one ESPN simulation for 2021 season

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This ESPN simulation has an interesting take on the 2021 Patriots originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

It's only one simulation.

One simulation out of 20,000, to be exact. But in a simulation ESPN's analytics department released Monday, the forecast is decidedly mediocre for the New England Patriots in 2021.

While the simulation calls for the Patriots to win one more game than they did in 2020, the new 17-game schedule would force New England to an 8-9 finish, out of the playoffs and with a second consecutive losing season.

The Patriots haven't gone consecutive seasons without posting a winning record since 1999-2000, when the team finished 8-8 in Pete Carroll's final season as head coach before bottoming out at 5-11 in Bill Belichick's first year in Foxboro.

Curran: Your on-point 2021 Pats season prediction with Bucs game preview

To find the last time New England posted losing records in consecutive seasons, one must go back to the true dark ages of the franchise, when the Patriots finished no better than 6-10 in a five-year stretch from 1989-1993.

New England's 8-9 record in the simulation would place the team 10th in the AFC, with the same record as the Tennessee Titans and Las Vegas Raiders.

While the simulation didn't make clear exactly which games the Patriots would win and lose, it did break down the records for every team in the league through Weeks 5, 9 and 12. New England would be 2-3 after five games, 6-3 after nine -- and a half game ahead of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East -- and 7-5 through 12 games, in possession of the top wild-card spot in the conference.

The simulation singles out a 45-42 win for the Patriots in Week 13 at Buffalo, which is immediately followed by the team's bye week. New England doesn't win another game in the simulation, however, which would mean a losses to the Indianapolis Colts (away), Bills (home), Jacksonville Jaguars (home) and Miami Dolphins (away) to close things out.

As for that Buffalo game in Week 13? Turns out it would be the last result of its kind for the Bills, too, as the simulation calls for Buffalo to win Super Bowl LVI, 27-17, over the Green Bay Packers. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come up short in their quest for back-to-back titles, falling at home to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

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