Patriots to get a glimpse of life after Brady in September

If there is a silver lining to the four-game suspension of Tom Brady for the New England Patriots this season, it is that the Pats get a four-game look into the future. Brady is not a young man anymore and it is getting close to time to prepare for the day when he is gone for good. If Jimmy Garappolo is the heir apparent, then the Pats get to see what he's got with the preseason and the first four games of the regular season belonging to him now.

Is he as good as Brady? No. Of course not. If he was, he'd already be the number one quarterback. Does he have to be as good as Brady though? No. Not really. Remember that the Patriots are really good even without the Future Hall of Fame quarterback. The Pats had Matt Cassel fill in one year when Brady was injured and he did so well he was able to turn his sting with New England into a fat payday from the Kansas City Chiefs, who quickly learned Cassel wasn't that good. Heck, the Pats even made Ryan Mallett look attractive enough for the Houston Texans to give him a shot at their starting job.

So the Patriots are good enough to make an average quarterback successful. From what we've all been told, Jimmy G can play a little. So they should be fine then.

Let's remember, the Pats will be without Brady for the first four games, but their opponents won't have him either. So really, all missing Tom Terrific does is make these games a fair fight. It does not mean New England has no shot.

So let's look at the Pats schedule and see what they can realistically do with the first four weeks.

Week One: September 11th @Arizona Cardinals.

This is a tough opener for a young quarterback. The Cardinals are one of the top Super Bowl contenders and they have been known to harass a quarterback at times. Ask Aaron Rodgers. Talk about being thrown right into the fire, Garappolo will have his hands full with this one.

We like Arizona to win this one at home. Look for Pats fans to grumble a bit after this game.

Week Two vs Miami Dolphins at home.

This one could be a tough game as well. Ndomakong Suh and the Dolphins defense is no picnic either. But the Pats are very familiar with Miami. They play the Dolphins twice every year so they know they are better than the Dolphins.

Look for the Pats defense and running attack to come up bi for them in this one. We like Garappolo to bounce back and have a good game here too. New England wins by 10 points, 27-17.

Week Three vs Houston Texans at home.

Again, Garapolo faces a serious pass rushing threat with J. J. Watt and Jadaveon Clowney coming after him. Fortunately for Garappolo and the Pats, the Texans are also trying to break in a new signal caller in Brock Osweiler, recently signed as a free agent after he helped the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl last year.

Of course Denver did not fell Osweiler was good enough to beat the Pats in the AFC Championship game and instead went with Peyton Manning. Houston's defense is very good, but not Denver good. We like New England in this one too.

Pats 21 Texans 14

Week Four vs Buffalo Bills at home

The Pats get a nice rest before this game as the Texans game is on a Thursday night. So with their third straight home game and not having to play for ten days, Garappolo and the coaches have a long time to get ready for the Bills.

Buffalo is another team that does not scare the Pats, they have owned them for years. With or without Brady, New England at home should be a heavy favorite to beat Buffalo. Besides, who is Buffalo's quarterback going to be? Tyrod Taylor? Is Tyrod Taylor going to strike fear in the Pats? I hardly think so

Patriots win 35 -17.

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So, according to our predictions, the Patriots will fare just fine without Brady in their first four games. We have them going 3-1 with two wins over AFC East Division foes. Brady comes back in Week Five to face the Cleveland Browns. That should be good for another win. So that's a 4-1 start before they go back home to face the Cincinnati Bengals, then go back on the road to play the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Bills again.

At home, with Brady in his second week, we like their chances against Cincinnati. That puts them at 5-1 going into the two road games to close out the first half of the season. We see no reason New England shouldn't at least split those two games to go to 6-2.

So if Pats fans are thinking of panicking about the prospects of not having Tom Brady for the first four weeks, perhaps they should wait. New England will be just fine thank you, and will once again run away with the AFC Eastern Division Championship.

The four game mini-season for Jimmy Garappolo might make them even better in the long run.