What would be the Patriots’ record this season if Tom Brady was still there instead of Cam Newton?
New England Patriots to find oneself in an unfamiliar position right now. Normally, at this point in the season, they would compete for the AFC’s No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
This campaign, however, they currently sit 6-6 and are two games out of seventh and last place in the conference playoffs with three incredibly tough games — against the Rams, Dolphins and Bills — remaining on their schedule. Barring a collapse of one or two of the other contenders, the Patriots will have to run the board for a chance to qualify.
Now do they have had to overcome adverse circumstances like free agency departures and player withdrawals? Without a doubt, but it’s still disconcerting to see them fail in close games as much as they did in 2020.
Needless to say, the quarterback’s inconsistent play played a part in their struggles, and it got us thinking: What would the Patriots’ record be with Tom Brady? 2020 Tom Brady, not his idealized form.
Cam Newton admitted last week that he is still learning of the offense proved that no quarterback was fully capable of replacing Brady this year, but let’s not forget that the Patriots chose not to make any skill-position upgrades this offseason and the offense was objectively stagnant with him under center in 2019.
That being said, however, the 43-year-old quarterback is arguably the most committed quarterback of all time, and he’s probably had three of the Patriots’ losses this season.
We’ll consider the losses to the Chiefs and 49ers a washout since the Pats were outscored in both matchups and Newton didn’t even appear in the first. The Week 2 loss to Seattle should also be invalid because the Patriots wouldn’t have even been in this game if not for Newton and his 397-yard day.
That being said, however, we have to think that Brady is doing well in losses to Denver, Buffalo and maybe Houston. Newton was brutal against the Broncos in his first match after a bout with COVID-19, and there’s simply no way the six-time champ is going to let that one pass.
As for the Bills’ loss, Newton’s grueling fourth-quarter fumble ultimately proved to be the difference in that one. Buffalo was literally begging to lose and it really looked (before the fumbling) that he was going to. For the sake of discussion, let’s just assume that Brady doesn’t return the ball and throws the starting touchdown.
The defense was largely responsible for the Texans’ loss. Because of that – and Newton playing one of his best games of the season – we’ll consider this a draw. At the end of the day, the Patriots would likely be 7-5 or (at best) an 8-4 if Brady hadn’t opted to test free agency last offseason.
It’s not a significant improvement, but the Patriots’ chances in the playoffs would certainly be brighter.