New England 5-3? Second Quarter 2012 Predictions

You know, a .500 record in September isn’t that bad, people.

When we predicted a slow 2-2 start by the Patriots in our preseason column, we were met with, shall we say, resistance (link here).

New England has had some misfortune. The Aaron Hernandez injury forced them into a different offensive mindset, and other players struggled to take up the slack. The defense displayed lapses similar to 2011 (for whatever reason, it seems rare that defenders look back at the ball). Special teams failed to live up to their adjective.

The good news? This young New England team should only improve as we head into the second quarter of the season. Judging by their 45-0 second half at Buffalo, the Pats have tapped into the potential to do some damage.

So, relax, think positive thoughts, and check out our first quarter review/second quarter preview.

Game One Prediction: NE 23, TEN 20

Actual Result: NE 34, TEN 13

We figure the visitors will get off to a slow start, but New England shines in all phases of the game. Most Telling Stat: Titan Chris Johnson gains 4 yards on 11 carries while Patriot Stevan Ridley garners 125 on 21 totes.

Game Two Prediction: NE 31, ARI 13

Actual Result: ARI 20, NE 18

Underrated Arizona stuns New England – both the team and the region – as the home opener includes a blocked punt, a holding call on what would have been the leading TD, and a missed potential game-winning field goal.

Game Three Prediction: BAL 27, NE 23

Actual Result: BAL 31, NE 30

Playing with a little something extra after the death of his brother, Torrey (aka Torrid) Smith burns the Patriots secondary as, in a well-worn scenario, the offense can’t run out the clock while the defense can’t keep an opponent at bay late. New England surrenders a 30-21 lead in the final five minutes.

Game Four Prediction: BUF 21, NE 20

Actual Result: NE 52, BUF 28

Things look grim going into this one with the absences of receiver Julian Edelman and guard Logan Mankins. New England’s D delivers a goal-line stand to keep it close at the half; their offense come through with a remarkable outburst to erase a 21-7 deficit. Four Patriots compiled over 100 yards of offense each (Ridley and Brandon Bolden rushing, Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski receiving).

As Coach Belichick might say, we’re looking ahead to next week. Or the next four weeks, actually. The good news? The Pats should have a winning record by the bye. The bad news? Peyton Manning’s coming to town, and he’s bringing his friends.

2012 SECOND QUARTER PREDICTIONS

Vs. DENVER (Sun, Oct. 7, 4:25 p.m.) DEN 27, NE 24.

Manning has looked like his old self of late, and few quarterbacks know the Patriots better than he does (Broncos center Dan Koppen knows them even better). New England needs enough skill players to allow Tom Brady to avoid cornerback Champ Bailey; with their current slate of injuries, they may have a hard time keeping up.

As an aside, I’d pay to watch video of Patriots backup QB Ryan Mallett doing his impression of Manning on the practice field. It must look like a stork imitating an ostrich.

At SEATTLE (Sun, Oct. 14, 4:05 p.m.) – NE 20, SEA 16

This could get ugly. Seattle QB Russell Wilson strikes fear in the hearts of few, but the 2012 version of the Seahawks has proven a tough out at home. Pass-rusher Chris Clemons, helped by a level of crowd noise Gillette Stadium hasn’t seen since forever, could do some damage against Pats tackle Nate Solder.

Plus, Coach Pete Carroll seems to know what he’s doing. Go figure.

Vs. NEW YORK (Sun, Oct. 21, 4:25 p.m.) – NE 30, NYJ 20

The Patriots should be able to control the game offensively considering the Jets’ difficulty defending the run and their acute Revis deficiency. We predict a relatively close one because this rates as the Jets’ annual Super Bowl. Unfortunately for them, their offense has been lighting it up about as often as a non-smoker in a gunpowder shack.

(I assume gunpowder shacks exist. I watched a lot of Bugs Bunny cartoons.)

At ST. LOUIS (Sun, Oct. 28, 1 p.m.) – NE 28, STL 20

The Rams have competed this season, yet remain mediocre in almost every statistical category. QB Sam Bradford will have to beat the Pats, as the visitors will focus on stopping St. Louis’ running game. Notable stat: in last week’s 19-13 victory over Seattle, the Rams’ kicking team scored all points (including a nifty fake kick/TD pass that looked an awful lot like the Adam-Vinatieri-to-Troy-Brown hookup of November 2004).

We expect the Patriots’ defense to mesh better and the offense to find its rhythm by the end of October, setting the team up for success in the second half (and, we assume, beyond the regular season).

Predicted record for Games Five through Eight: 3-1

Predicted record at midseason: 5-3

Predicted season record: 11-5

You can email Chris Warner happy tidings at [email protected]

  • Frank

    “When we predicted a slow 2-2 start by the Patriots in our preseason column, we were met with, shall we say, resistance”
    Did you just pat yourself on the back for going 1-3 in predictions in the first 4 weeks? You don’t get to tout your reselts if your reasoning was all wrong.
    This is just like Ordway a few years back predicting the Blue Jays would overtake the Red Sox for 2nd in the AL East. The Sox had a rash of injuries after the trade deadline and fell apart, he he was doing victory laps.
    Stupid logic.

    • http://twitter.com/DryHeave1 DryHeave

      I’ll give Warner lukewarm props for getting the 2-2 record correct…but yes, when looking at his SCORE predictions and what ACTUALLY happened, the only game he was close on was the Ravens game….he should not be backslapping himself…..lol 2nd quarter picks?…. I think Warner has the 3-1 record correct but I think Pats beat Broncos and lose to Seahawks

      • Chris Warner

        Dear DH, I saw the Pats going 3-1 in these next four and considered the Seahawks, but the latest performances from Denver and Seattle made me switch. In any case, playing in the Seahawk’s stadium (CenturyLink Field, FWIW) is going to be ugly.

        • latetodinner

          If Pete Carroll out coaches Bill Belichick anywhere then this team is far more flawed than we think now. There is no way this Pats team loses to Seattle.

        • http://twitter.com/DryHeave1 DryHeave

          doesn’t have anything to do with being “out coached”…just one of those flying cross country, tough stadium,good pass rush team with good corners, gut feeling type of predictions on my part…..Feel much more confident playing Broncs at home then Seahawks on road

        • evil Stacey James

          Seattle’s slightly better than .500 at home the last 5 years. That’s downright terrifying. Do they throw scalding lattes on you from the stands there or is there something that I’m missing?

      • Chris Warner

        Good for you, DH. I had it the other way around, but you called it.

  • bsmfan

    Great article on the famous Brandon Lloyd (click the article if you didn’t see it) photo that’s made its rounds on all the sites:

    http://blogs.bostonmagazine.com/boston_daily/2012/10/02/brandon-lloyd-touchdown-smile-photo/

  • TonyC66

    Not to be bitter, but….take away the two phantom defensive holding calls against the Ravens when it was still a 30-21 game, and they’re 3-1; and we’d be talking about how they walked into one of the toughest arenas in the league, in prime time, against one of the toughest teams in the league, and beat them by more than a touchdown. Just sayin’.

    • Chris Warner

      Sure. And if you take away a goal-line stand at the end of the first half and a record-breaking scoring spree in the second half, NE loses to the Bills. No reason to be bitter. Pats win the AFC East and go far in the playoffs. Remain calm; all is well.

      • TonyC66

        Chris, I’m not sure “taking away” good things the Patriots did on the field (e.g., causing a goal line fumble and then going on a scoring spree in Buffalo) can be weighed equally against the amateur officials blowing several key calls and influencing the outcome of a game the Patriots pretty much controlled for 55 minutes against one of the Top Four teams in the league, on the road. But if it helps to justify your argument, then go for it my friend. And I agree: all is well. Despite the rough final three quarters in Baltimore, the defense clearly has improved. The secondary still needs time to gel and get better, but the Front 7 is very solid now. Offensively, except for the first three quarters against Arizona, they’ve been the typical Patriots–explosive and hard to stop. Even if they do finish 11-5, which is quite possible given the remaining schedule, they will be a very, very dangerous playoff team, first round bye or not.

  • Winning_Again

    Not sure I would start this type of Prediction article patting myself on the back for getting the record correct, when the logic that was used to arrive at that result was seriously flawed. Like I said in the comments to the original article, I have no problem with picking the Pats to lose as long as there is some rational thought put into it.

    No-one predicted the Zona loss, so that’s moot. But my biggest problem with your Buffalo loss prediction was the lack of reasoning behind it. Granted, predictions are largely inaccurate and wrong from everyone even the ESPN “experts” but I still disagree with 11-5 overall record.

    You predicted remaining losses against SF, Miami, and Houston. I disagree with the Miami, assumed loss, based on resting starters. While you could be right and Bill sits everyone down, I still see the Pats winning and likely playing their starters. I don’t think the #2 seed is going to be locked up prior to week 17.

    I don’t see a loss against Denver. Peyton is clearly not the same player. His throws don’t have the same speed on them which I feel is a benefit to our weak secondary. This should allow the soft coverage from Arrington/Mccourty/Gregory and Chung to make plays on some lame duck passes. I don’t think McGahee is good enough at this point in his career to really torch our solid run defense.

    I’m a fanboy, but I don’t see the Pats losing any of the next four games.

    • Chris Warner

      Dear “Winning,” I respectfully request permission to change my Miami prediction to Denver. Manning should have a pretty solid game, don’t you think? Also, let’s keep the SF and Houston loss predictions. We predicted 2-2 for the Pats; we predict 11-5 for the season. If the Pats go 4-0 this quarter, great. See you next month!

      • Winning_Again

        Request Denied!!! lol

        Why do you think Manning is going to have a solid game? If he is simply solid, I don’t see how they win. Pats offense is better than last year, even without Hernandez in the lineup. The Pats torched Denver’s DEF last year, granted, part of their problem was Tebow couldn’t give them any rest.

        The Patriots have improved their past rush this season. In watching the few games Denver has played, their line is good, but not great. Teams have been able to put pressure on Manning resulting in rushed or weak “softballs” getting fluttered across the field. I see this happening on Sunday resulting in at least 2 INT’s.

        What about Denver screams L? Am I missing some component of their DEF? Do you see this being a shootout loss, or lockdown defensive battle? Or a Denver blowout?

        • Chris Warner

          Hey, I hope you’re right. For me, it comes down to three issues: Manning, McGahee and Hernandez. The Pats can stop McGahee, but that should allow Manning to put up some yardage (even Fitzpatrick got yards, it’s just that he also managed to throw 4 picks, at least 2 of which were essentially punts). Hernandez was a rock star in the playoffs, doing everything for the offense except tape Brady’s ankles. I’m simply not confident that the second-half-at-Buffalo Patriots will show up for 4 quarters. Again, this doesn’t “scream” loss to me, but I don’t think the Pats are where they need to be yet – where I expect they will be in the second half of 2012.

        • Winning_Again

          I still don’t get it, you say Manning will put up yards, of course he will. Yards don’t win games, points do. Does that mean Denver is going to score that much more often than the Pats?

          Champ Bailey is good but very old. So Bailey covers Lloyd or Welker? That leave Tracy Porter and a shaky safety core to deal with either of the above and Gronk. The middle of the field is going to be wide open, especially with dumervil and miller choosing to rush Brady. Expect alot of screens and quick slants.

        • Chris Warner

          In response to your first question, Denver doesn’t need to score “that much more” than the Pats – just one point will do. Speaking of safety play, neither Gregory nor Chung instilled me with confidence Sunday. Again, I hope you’re right. To me, though, Manning > Fitzgerald, who led his team to 4 TDs (and yes, I’m counting the last one. Just because it was late in the game doesn’t mean the Pats weren’t trying).

        • Winning_Again

          Ok I agree that Gregory and Chung didn’t wow the pants off anyone. But you continually point out Pats flaws, then add up said flaws to assume a Loss. Yet you don’t take into consideration what Denver has on the Defensive side of the ball.

          We know Dumervil and Miller will rush Brady, but so did Mario Williams, Mark Anderson, and those on Baltimore. The line has held up quite well against the pass rush. Do Denver’s corners/safeties scare you? We know Bailey is good, but who else scares you? Tracy Porter? Mike Adams and Jim Leonhard? If so, then here is where we part ways.

          I agree Denver will probably score 21 points based on Manning, but the Pats should score 28-34 on this defense.

  • bsmfan

    The nightmare is over..

    No “news” here but a nice eulogy by Jeff Passan:
    My eulogy of the wild, crazy and, ultimately, failed Bobby V experiment: http://yhoo.it/UGtKwf