We do not have an inkling as to whether or not Jimmy Garoppolo can sufficiently run an NFL offense. Pre-season games mean little. Mop-up duty in blowouts mean less.
So, if Garoppolo is going to start the first four games of the season for the Patriots the only real safe predictions we can make for “Jimmy G” center around his respective opponents for those four games. A look at the slate.
Week 1 – Patriots at Cardinals: Arizona allowed a stingy 19.6 points per game last season, the seventh best mark in the league. In terms of passing yards per game, the Cards ranked eighth (230.4 yards per game). This game is in primetime on a Sunday night, on the road against the 2015 NFC runner-ups. Prediction: Two Jimmy G INTs and a Pats blowout loss.
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Week 2 – Dolphins at Patriots: Miami ranked 19th in the league in points allowed last season (24.3) and 21st in the league in passing yards allowed. Prediction: After a week of classic, old school Boston fan panic, the Pats turn around and slam the Dolphins. Three Jimmy G TD passes and zero picks.
Week 3 – Texans at Patriots: Houston head coach Bill O’Brien fancies himself as a Brady backup whisperer, but he never got his mitts on Jimmy G (Garoppolo was drafted in 2014, O’Brien left the Pats in 2012). Prediction: Pats win a sloppy one with Jimmy G throwing one pick and one TD.
Week 4 – Bills at Patriots: Rex Ryan’s Bills lost to teams quarterbacked by Sam Bradford and Blake Bortles last season, so who’s to say Garoppolo can’t solve Buffalo’s defense? Despite the hype, the Bills were a middle-of-the-road defense last season. Prediction: Pats win another sloppy one with Garoppolo throwing one pick and zero TDs. Any Pats fan would sign up for a 3-1 Brady-less record.