There were no playoffs for the league’s most successful team this century. But bigger and better things could be ahead for the New England Patriots.
After capturing a record 11 straight division titles while posting 19 consecutive winning seasons – along with six Super Bowl titles – the 2020 New England Patriots fell and couldn’t get up. They dropped to third place in the AFC East with a 7-9 record, six games behind the champion Buffalo Bills. Cries of “the dynasty is over” were heard around the world…sort of.
But one bad season doesn’t end a dynasty. And Bill Belichick and the organization have been hard at work this year bolstering the roster – spending plenty of money in the process. So here come the Patriots with a new look. And here’s why they are capable of getting back to another successful Super Sunday.
1. Rejuvenated Cam Newton leads a bolstered offensive unit
It was a rough 10th NFL season for a former NFL MVP. Of course, the previous two seasons were no picnic either for Cam Newton. From 2013-15, he led the Carolina Panthers to three straight NFC South titles. The final season in that stretch the club was 15-1 and eventually clashed with the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
The Panthers were in the playoffs in 2017 and a season later off to a 6-2 start. But a shoulder injury suffered in a prime time loss to the Steelers hampered him the rest of the year. In ’18, there was a foot injury that occurred during the preseason and after two regular-season outings he was done for 2019.
He was released by the franchise in 2020 and finally latched on with the Patriots in late June. After a respectable, he battled COVID-19 and really wasn’t the same. While he ran for 12 scores, he threw more interceptions (10) than touchdown passes. A less-than-scintillating support case in terms of the skill positions didn’t help.
But the organization went on a spending sprees earlier this year. The offensive additions include tight end Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry and wide receivers Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. Only three teams in the league ran the ball for more yards than the Pats a year ago.
Now Newton has a lot of options, as well as some pretty potent weapons. And that has to make offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels happy as well.