On Monday, a federal appeals court ruled that Tom Brady will have to serve a four-game suspension to begin the 2016 NFL season stemming from his alleged involvement in the Deflategate scandal. While it appears Brady is going to fight the verdict, there's a chance the New England Patriots will be without their starting quarterback come September.
Under the assumption that Brady's suspension is upheld, and the Patriots start backup Jimmy Garoppolo in Weeks 1-4, how would Bill Belichick's group hold up? Let's break it down week by week.
Week 1: at Arizona Cardinals
Brady or no Brady, this was going to be one of New England's toughest games on schedule. The Cardinals are coming off a 13-win season and boast one of the NFC's best defenses against the pass. With Garoppolo just getting his legs under him, count this as a loss for the Pats.
Week 2: vs. Miami Dolphins
After opening in Arizona, New England begins a rare three-game homestand starting with the Dolphins. While Miami upset the depleted Pats when they met in January, the Dolphins' 2015 defense ranked second-worst in the league from an efficiency standpoint. Both teams will be coming off stiff tests -- the Fins open the season in Seattle -- but Garoppolo should have the personnel advantage to edge out Ryan Tannehill and co. for his first career NFL win.
Week 3: vs. Houston Texans
The Texans are a bit of a question mark going into the season with Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller coming to town, and will likely still be coming together as an offensive unit when they meet the Pats in Week 3. New England has a history of beating up Houston in the Brady era, going 5-1 with their lone loss being a throwaway game in Week 7, but this will be a tight one without the three-time Super Bowl MVP. I'll give the edge to the Texans behind the strength of their passing defense, which was the third-best in the league in 2015.
Week 4: vs. Buffalo Bills
The team's last Brady-less game comes against a team that has gone 3-28 to the Pats in the Belichick era. The Bills showed flashes of being a competitive team in 2015, but their defense still has several holes, and the Tyrod Taylor/EJ Manuel combination at quarterback does not inspire much confidence. By Week 4, Garoppolo should have a good rapport with his teammates, leading New England to a comfortable win at Gillette Stadium.
Projected Record: 2-2Back to the New England Patriots Newsfeed