Saturday, July 21, 2012
Vote: 'Fact or fiction' on Pats predictions
ESPNBoston.com reporters Mike Reiss, Mike Rodak and Field Yates play a game of "Fact or Fiction" on the 2012 Patriots season (video above).
1. The Patriots will win 13 or more games.
Rodak: Fact. "The reason on that is the competition Bill Belichick has created with the roster. I think he will be able to weed out and find the best players, and in turn create the best team."
Reiss: Fact. "The defense will be better -- 28th in the league on third down last year -- I think the athletes that Bill Belichick brought in are really going to help."
Yates: Fact. "I think you have to look at the schedule as well. They play two divisions -- the AFC South, which is sort of on the bottom and pretty weak, and the NFC West; although the 49ers are a strong team, I think that the bottom three teams below them might be favorable matchups for the Patriots. I think 13 wins is almost a lock."
Yates: Fact. "He had 17 last year, 18 if you include his technically running score. It's a big total he's reached before, but this is where I think Rob Gronkowski will be able to take advantage in 2012. The Patriots have reloaded an already tremendous offense; they're going to move down the field very quickly and efficiently. That will give Gronkowski lots of opportunities in the red zone."
Reiss: Fiction. "Just because I think the opponents -- teams like the Bills and the Jets -- have really focused on how to limit Gronkowski. I don't think you ever stop him, but I think the number will come down."
Rodak: Fiction. "You have Gronkowski, but you also have Brandon Lloyd, who you did not have last year. A disappointing receiving corps last year has now gotten better. More opportunities for them to score means less opportunities for Gronk to score."
Rodak: Fiction. "I think you're probably going to see an average of what he did the last two seasons -- his first season being great, his second season being not so great."
Reiss: Fiction. "I do think we'll see a better Devin McCourty, Field, mainly because I think the safety play behind him is going to be better. So he'll be able to play a little bit more [freely] on the corner."
Yates: Fact. "I think the best thing that happened to Devin McCourty in 2011 was the season ending. He needed to just wipe the slate clean. He's going to go into 2012 with a full offseason, a fresh take. We talk about defensive backs; a lot of it comes down to confidence. I think that his confidence will be there from the start, whereas last year he lost it early. He couldn't really regroup within the season -- that's a difficult thing to do. I think 2012 is a bounce-back year for Devin McCourty."
Fact or fiction on each topic? Vote in the polls, and share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry.