Julian Edelman’s appeal of his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drugs rules has been denied, guaranteeing the New England Patriots will be without their best receiver until October 4th against the Colts in Foxboro, in front of a fired up home crowd.
Edelman will miss games against the Texans, Jaguars, Lions, and Dolphins. Now, the Patriots will have to adjust their roster for the time being and try to win games without the most secure hands on the team catching balls for Tom Brady.
The roster is where the Patriots will take the biggest hit.
Losing any player at a position hurts depth, but losing the number one player at a position forces players of lesser talent and ability to perform above and beyond in order to keep the team afloat. The starters at wide receiver for the Patriots’ first four games will be Chris Hogan and alongside him will either be newly acquired Jordan Matthews or recently injured Malcom Mitchell.
Matthews, the once breakout star in Philadelphia, played last season in Buffalo where he battled injuries and had to fight just to make it onto the field. Mitchell broke out with the Patriots two seasons ago, winning a Super Bowl against the Falcons as part of the Patriot game plan. But last season Mitchell played in none of the team’s 16 games, battling a multitude of injuries. If both players are healthy, the Patriots receiving core can certainly last four games against mediocre defensive secondaries.
However, if anymore injuries arise, the Patriots will have to rely on role players like Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, and special teams returner Cordarell Patterson. Combined the reserve receivers have less receptions than Chris Hogan did alone last season.
Week 1: Houston
The Patriots caught a break in the schedule during Edelman’s suspension. Starting off at home vs a young and prosperous Texans team led by Deshaun Watson, the Pats will have a tough time starting the season on the right note. But the Texans are no strangers to injuries as well, and with Watson recovering and their defense in the infirmary, the Patriots would come out of week 1 1-0.
Week 2: Jacksonville
Facing the Jaguars in Jacksonville used to be the game every team circled on the calendar as a guaranteed win, but in 2018 the story will be a bit different. The Jags have a very young and very talented secondary and their offense seems more on track than ever. The Patriots will miss Edelman this game when Jalen Ramsey holds Hogan to no receptions and Gronkowski welcomes strong double coverage from Mack and the Jags’ linebacking core. Pats leave the south 1-1.
Week 3: Detroit
The Patriots have a history of beating the teams they are supposed to beat, and the Lions are one of those teams. After two seasons of moderate success, Calvin Johnson retired and the Lions are back to the bottom of the NFL barrel. The Patriots should have little trouble winning in in Detroit. 2-1.
Week 4: Miami
This is the only game that is highly unfortunate for the Pats to be playing without Edelman. The Dolphins are a division rival and each game against them counts significantly towards the playoff race. The Patriots always have a hard time competing against their division match ups, and the Dolphins will never be more excited to steal a win in New England. Tom Brady is 21-9 in his career against the Dolphins, but unfortunately for him, the loss column will reach double digits after week four. With Ryan Tannehill back for the Dolphins, there should be an upset happening for the underdog. 2-2.
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