Patriots ’20 Questions: Will Patriots be playoff team?

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The Patriots are in the midst of the most interesting, important offseason in more than two decades. Tom Brady moved on to Tampa Bay. Bill Belichick remains in place with a veteran roster. There are plenty of questions and even more plentiful opinions regarding the defending AFC East champions. Over the next few weeks WEEI.com will ask and offer up answers to 20 of the most critical questions facing the 2020 Patriots.

Today’s question: Will the Patriots be a playoff team in 2020?

Hannable: Even before the arrival of Cam Newton I said yes, so with his arrival it is more of absolutely.

In case you forgot, there will be three wild card teams in each conference this season, so an extra playoff spot. With that in mind, all teams really have to do to make the postseason is go at least 9-7. The Patriots are certainly capable of doing that, even if Jarrett Stidham is the quarterback. In fact, if the Patriots are below .500 this coming season, it would be considered a disappointment.

Now, they are not AFC favorites like the last 20 or so years, but they are right at the top of the second tier behind the Chiefs and Ravens. New England will almost certainly make the postseason and then has the potential to win a few games and make a deep January run.

Hart: The arrival of Cam Newton changed my opinion on this. Back in the Jarrett Stidham Era – remember that time from mid-March through late-July? – I thought New England faced an uphill battle to make the postseason, even with an extra playoff team in 2020.

Now, assuming that Newton is indeed the starting quarterback, I do think Bill Belichick has enough all-around talent to make a run toward January play. It’s not just about the skill that the Patriots have, but also the level of competition. I’m not ready to anoint Josh Allen’s Bills as the AFC East champs. Really, outside of the Chiefs and Ravens, most of the competition in the conference faces their own list of questions.

The Patriots have flaws and questions. So do the rest of the second-tier teams in the AFC. The Patriots also have Belichick and plenty of returning veteran contributors to lean on in the first year of life without Tom Brady. New England is not a Super Bowl contender, but it has what it takes to make yet another run into the postseason.

Will Patriots be playoff team in 2020?

— The Off Day WEEI.com (@OffDayPod) July 22, 2020