Simulation Station

We simulated Patriots' 2023 season, and the results were surprising

Are the Patriots on the verge of missing the playoffs again?

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The New England Patriots are expected to be in the mix for a playoff spot in the AFC during the 2023 NFL season, but getting back to the postseason will be a pretty difficult task.

The Patriots play in one of the league's toughest divisions, the AFC East. All four teams have playoff aspirations, and you could easily make the argument that New England has the worst roster of the group.

There are a few reasons for optimism, though. The Patriots added Bill O'Brien to their coaching staff, and he gives them a respected and successful offensive coordinator. The defense, which was a strength of the team last season, could be even better in 2023, especially if young players such as rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez make a strong impact.

Our friends at Strat-O-Matic simulated the 2023 season for the Patriots, and the results will not please New England fans.

Here are the key takeaways from the simulation.

Tough schedule predictions come true

The Patriots have one of the toughest schedules in the league based on the 2022 win percentage of all their 2023 opponents. They also face many of the top quarterbacks in the league, including Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen (twice), Aaron Rodgers (twice) and Tua Tagovailoa (twice).

Based on the simulation, this grueling schedule was too much for the Patriots to overcome. They finished with a 7-10 record, thus missing the playoffs for the second year in a row. The result also represents New England's first season with double-digit losses since the team went 5-11 in 2000, which was Tom Brady's rookie season.

The most surprising results in our simulation were actually a pair of wins. The Patriots beat both of last season's Super Bowl participants (Week 1 vs. Eagles and Week 15 vs. Chiefs) at home. After a season-opening victory against the Eagles, the Patriots quickly dropped to 1-3. After getting back to the .500 mark at 3-3, the Patriots went just 4-7 the rest of the way, including three consecutive losses to end the regular season.

New England's offense struggled throughout and failed to score 20-plus points six times.

Check out the game-by-game results from our simulation below:

Mac Jones fails to impress in Year 3

The 2023 season is a very important one for Jones, to say the least. After a strong rookie campaign in 2021 during which he helped lead the Patriots to the playoffs, Jones took a step back in 2022 and missed three games due to an ankle injury. Jones didn't perform well when he was healthy enough to play and finished with 2,997 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 14 games.

The results of our simulation saw improvement from Jones, but not to the level you'd expect with Bill O'Brien running the show as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Jones completed less than 65 percent of his passes (62.6 percent) for the first time and set a career high in interceptions (16). He also set career highs in passing touchdowns (23) and passing yards (3,908).

Another interesting stat from this simulation was Jones being sacked 47 times. The Patriots gave up 41 sacks last season. The offensive line is a huge question mark entering the season, and it doesn't look like this group excelled in our simulation.

Rhamondre Stevenson shoulders the load... again

Stevenson enjoyed a breakout Year 2 with the Patriots. He tallied 1,040 yards (5.0 per carry) and five touchdowns on the ground, in addition to 69 receptions for 421 receiving yards and one touchdown catch.

The Patriots again leaned on Stevenson in this simulation to carry most of the burden offensively.

Stevenson set career highs with 1,392 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. He also was a factor as a pass-catcher out of the backfield by posting 56 receptions for 494 yards and three more scores. His 1,886 total yards and nine total touchdowns are impressive totals, too.

New England would be wise to lessen Stevenson's workload this coming season. The best way to do that is by giving 2022 draft picks Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris a chance to thrive in a larger role. Unfortunately for the Patriots, that scenario didn't unfold in our simulation.

New pass-catching additions were less than stellar

The Patriots added a few weapons to their offense over the offseason to improve a lackluster passing attack, and none of them made a tremendous impact.

Veteran wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was signed in free agency to replace Jakobi Meyers, who left Foxboro to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders. Smith-Schuster tallied 67 receptions for 719 yards and five touchdowns in our simulation. That production was worse than the 67 catches for 800 yards and six touchdowns that Meyers gave New England last season.

Expectations are high for Mike Gesicki after the tight end signed with the Patriots in free agency. He also failed to impress in the simulation with 36 receptions for 466 yards and two touchdowns. These numbers represent a slight uptick in catches and receiving yards compared to his 2022 output, but the Patriots need more than a "slight" improvement.

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