I picked the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl 50, as part of my NFL Prediction podcast last week.
I told you that the Patriots would defeat the Dallas Cowboys on Feb. 7 at Levi’s Stadium, after winning the AFC East with a 12-4 record, clinching the top spot in the AFC, and eliminating the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round and Conference Championship, respectively.
Your Super Bowl MVP will be Julian Edelman. Not just because he’ll have 100 yards receiving in that game, but also because the former quarterback-turned-wideout-turned-cornerback-turned-wideout-again will eventually be asked to play some more defense in a much-needed spot. This time, against the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. And an interception of Tony Romo will seal the deal on MVP.
OK, so if that prediction is a little too wild and in-depth for you to handle in September, I guess I can understand. But while making those picks, I tried to be somewhat realistic when it comes to the regular season. And while we’d all like to think that Tom Brady will have enough bulletin-board material this year to wreak havoc on the rest of the NFL for 16 straight games, the reality is, these Patriots are going to lose a few games while on the road to another division title, and yes, another Lombardi Trophy.
One of those losses, I fear, will come this Sunday in Buffalo; a Week 2 matchup against a much-improved AFC East opponent. I felt this way before the season began, and after watching the Bills basically embarrass the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, I’m sticking to my guns.
I’m not entirely sold on Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who attempted just 19 passes in Sunday’s win over the Colts. Still, I have to no choice but to acknowledge some of their other offensive weapons — LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Sammy Watkins — and think that they won’t be the easiest team in the league to stop, especially in front of the 73,000 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
But it’s Buffalo’s defense that has me worried for the Patriots in this early matchup. Forget about Rex Ryan for a minute. I’m talking about the Bills’ actual talent up front. They’ll have the ability to expose a Patriots offensive line that’s dealing with a combination of injuries, youth, and inexperience in the middle. Sure, it didn’t seem like an issue in Week 1 against the Steelers, but this weekend in Buffalo will provide a much tougher task.
Look, every season I account for at least one divisional loss on the road. And you won’t get me to put my money against the Patriots in Weeks 16 and 17 when they go to New York and Miami. If the Pats are going to be had by an AFC East opponent on the road this season, it’s going to be this Sunday, in Week 2, when all the kinks are still being worked out.
The Patriots aren’t a perfectly-oiled machine just yet. They will be, eventually. But there’ll be a couple bumps along the way.
So put your money on the Patriots to win Super Bowl 50. Just make sure you stay away from the -1.5 this Sunday in Buffalo.