Soo, ready for the season yet, or do you want another preseason game?
Nope? All set? Good.
Speaking of which, before we get into our predictions of the first four contests of the season, a quick review of our Preseason Predictions column posted at the beginning of August.
Preseason Predictions (Proper): Pretty short list. Two preseason wins or less (at 1-3, the Pats fell in line). Also, we guessed that, while Stevan Ridley would produce the most, Brandon Bolden could secure a roster spot with solid play. Donald Thomas would start at guard, while Ryan Mallett “(would) get plenty of opportunities to play.”
Preseason Predictions (Poor): We had Bolden scoring the most TDs (zero won’t do it), Aaron Hernandez getting the most receptions, and Jabar Gaffney with the most reception yardage (even without his injury, that probably wasn’t going to happen).
Ah, well. Why let a few mistakes get in the way? Let’s be pundits!
At TENNESSEE (Sun, 9/9, 1 p.m.) – NE 23, TEN 20.
Titans quarterback Jack Locker comes into this game with three advantages: home crowd, strong scrambling skills, and opponent ignorance. On that last point, New England has so little film on Locker they may as well be scouting Nessie. With a strong running game, we can see Locker doing just enough – even without Kenny “Officer, I Haven’t Had Anydrink To Thing Tonight” Britt at receiver – to give the Pats’ defense a challenge.
Meanwhile, the visiting offense takes a while to round into form, as the starting line this off-season have seen each other about as often as Giselle and the inside of a Wal-Mart. We predict a win, but a close one.
Vs. ARIZONA (Sun, 9/16, 1 p.m.) – NE 31, ARI 13.
Your starting quarterback for Arizona: John “Who, me?” Skelton, who beat out Kevin “Ka-ching!” Kolb and Ryan Lindley. Seriously, this three-headed QB is kind of like Cerberus, if Cerberus were a mini Chihuahua.
Offensively, the home opener should see the Patriots pull an Earth, Wind, and Fire and really get into a groove.
At BALTIMORE (Sun, 9/23, 8:20 p.m.) – BAL 27, NE 23
If you’re from Baltimore – sorry: If youse’re from Balmer, you want this game. The Ravens came within one dropped pass of victory and one missed field goal of overtime in last year’s AFC Champsionship at Foxboro. Linebacker Ray Lewis would actually rip off someone’s head and shout at it to ensure a win – and that would be his own teammate. With New England starting more slowly than Don Criqui matching a uniform number with a player while Baltimore gets inspired by the past more than Ron Borges’ barber, it should become a tough slog down in Charm City for the Pats.
But man, wouldn’t it be great if the Pats won on a questionable call by a replacement official? Even watching from his couch, Terrell Suggs would get so upset he’d pass out after forgetting to breathe out of his mouth.
At BUFFALO (Sun, 9/30, 1 p.m.) – BUF 21, NE 20
After a 2-0 start, the Patriots move back to .500 with a lame effort against Buffalo. Too many weapons on defense and a good-enough game from Ryan “Oh, I Went To School Near Boston – In Cambridge, As A Matter Of Fact” Fitzpatrick keep the visiting offense on their toes and the defense on their heels. Mario “I’m Not Injured Yet” Williams will make a difference, throwing Tom Brady off-rhythm and allowing the Bills to drop about 40 players into coverage.
The home fans feel very happy, until they leave the stadium and realize they live in Buffalo.
Predicted record after four games: 2-2
Predicted season record: 11-5
You can email Chris Warner a polite and cheery note at [email protected]