After crushing loss to 49ers, are the Patriots really done as an NFL powerhouse?

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton watches after he's replaced by Jarrett Stidham in game against the San Francisco 49ers
Photo of Andrew Ortenberg

Andrew Ortenberg


Show Bio

I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email

The New England Patriots have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL so far this season. After a hot start they’ve faded fast, losing three straight games to enter Week 8 at 2-4. Most recently they lost in humiliating fashion to the 49ers, getting crushed 33-6.

Cam Newton has regressed significantly, and there is now talk of the Pats being sellers at the trade deadline. But is New England really done after Tom Brady finally left? I’m not so sure. This might turn into somewhat of a regrouping year, but Bill Belichick isn’t going down without a fight, and I expect them to bounce back in 2021 if they can’t turn things around this year.

They’ve had some bad luck

Brady leaving is far from the only reason the Patriots have struggled so far this season. They lost some other key guys in free agency, but were dealt an even bigger blow this offseason when they were hit with by far the most significant COVID-19 opt outs of any team in the league.

Then a COVID-19 outbreak happened, and forced Newton to miss a game against the Chiefs where they never stood a prayer without him. It’s highly possible that missing all that time with the virus is what has caused Newton to look so bad since returning from it.

They’ve also had a brutal schedule, as three of their four losses have come to the Seahawks, Chiefs, and 49ers. Those happen to be the two teams that played in the Super Bowl last year plus a 5-1 Seattle team led by Russell Wilson. If you’ll recall, they nearly beat the Seahawks before getting stuffed at the one-yard line as time expired.

When you break it down things haven’t really been as disastrous as they seem, and they’ve caught some tough breaks. The schedule eases up going forward, so don’t be surprised if they make a sudden surge.

Things are much brighter in 2021

Even if they don’t manage to right the ship completely over their last 10 games and sneak into the playoffs, there’s no reason to believe this year will be the start of a complete downturn. In fact, I already like their prospects for a bounce back in 2021.

As I alluded to above the Pats were decimated by COVID-19 opt outs that set them back, particularly on defense. Crucial defenders like linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung chose not to play, as did starting offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and wide receiver Marqise Lee, who could’ve made things a bit easier on Newton.

Hightower was coming off a Pro Bowl season where he was one of the league’s better linebackers, and the impact of his absence can’t be overstated as he’s usually the heart and soul of the defense. He’s still only 30, and should be back at an elite level next year.

One of the main problems with New England right now is the lack of weapons for Newton, but that’s something that should be able to be relatively easily addressed this offseason. There are a number of intriguing receivers set to be free agents, like Houston’s Will Fuller.

Another underrated bonus of Belichick finally having a bad season is that for the first time in decades he might have a good draft position. Belichick picking toward the top of the first-round is a scary thought for opposing teams.

The bottom line

Everyone has been quick to write the Patriots’ obituary for many years, even well before Brady left. The same people are licking their chops now to declare their dominance over, but I think we should pump the brakes just a bit. Newton will likely get better and the schedule isn’t as daunting moving forward, so there’s still a chance for a playoff push starting this weekend with a pivotal division game against Buffalo. Even if that doesn’t materialize the team will almost certainly get better in 2021, and only a fool would declare Belichick finished before the final bell.

Pickswise is the home of free NFL predictions. Check out the latest NFL props and NFL parlays as well as expert underdog predictions and computer picks.

Virginia Bonuses

See All
FanDuel Sportsbook
Bet $5+ on Lions vs. Packers and Receive $200 in Bonus Bets!

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account

Bet $5 on any sporting event

Receive $200 in Bonus Bets

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. 21+
Bet $1 and Get $365 in Bonus Bets!

Register for a new bet365 account

Place qualifying bets of $1 or more

Get $365 in bonus bets - no matter if your bet wins or loses

Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. 21+. Physically present in OH, CO, NJ, VA, IA. Eligibility restrictions apply. Subject to regulatory licensing requirements. Opt-in req. Valid 1 per customer.
Bet $5 on Lions vs. Packers, Get $200 in Bonus Bets Instantly + Up to $150 in No Sweat Bets!

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Bet $5+ on any sports market and get $200 in bonus bets instantly

Plus up to $150 back in bonus bets if your team loses!

Gambling Problem? Call 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (CO/IL/IN/LA/MD/MI/NJ/PA/TN/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS), 888-789-7777/visit (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA). 21+ (18+ WY). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/KS/LA(select parishes)/MD/MI/NJ/NY/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Void in OH/ONT. Eligibility restrictions apply. Valid 1 per new customer. Min. $5 deposit. Min. $5 bet. $200 issued as bonus bets that expire 7 days (168 hours) after being awarded. See terms at
Caesars Sportsbook
$1,000 First Bet on Caesars for Lions vs. Packers!

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account and Place your 1st wager of $10 or more

Place your first wager of $50 or more and get $50 bonus bet upon settlement of your first wager

You will receive an additional $50 bonus bet each subsequent Monday

21+. New users and first wager only. Must register with eligible promo code. Bet amount of qualifying wager returned only if wager is settled as a loss. Min. bet $50; must be used within 14 days of receipt. See for full terms. Void where prohibited. Know When To Stop Before You Start.® Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER
Get $1,500 Paid Back in Bonus Bets if you Don't Win Your First Bet on Lions vs. Packers!

Register for a new BetMGM account & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,500!

Get refunded up to $1,500 in bonus bets if you don't win

Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER CO, IL, IN, LA, MD, MS, NJ, OH, PA, TN, VA, WV, WY, MA 21+ to wager. Please Gamble Responsibly. Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS, NV), 1-800-BETS-OFF (IA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI). Visit for Terms & Conditions. US promotional offers not available in DC, Nevada, New York or Ontario
Bet $50, Get $111 in Fred Bets + Up To $1,000 Back!

Sign up for a new account with Betfred Sports and make your first deposit

Place a $50 wager on any sport

Get $111 in Fred Bets + Up To $1,000 Back in Losses over 5 Week!

Must be 21+. T&Cs apply. Wagers only accepted in CO, AZ, IA, OH, VA, MD. Full terms available from Betfred Sports.
Get Up To $1,000 in Second Chance Bets!

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

If any of your first 10 cash bets lose (first bet per day for 10 days)

You will receive Bonus Bet(s) in the amount of the losing wager(s), up to $100 each.

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. 21+. Physically present in. Eligibility restrictions apply. Subject to regulatory licensing requirements. Opt-in req. Valid 1 per customer.
Get up to $500 Back in Bonus Bets if your First Bet Doesn't Win

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code SPORTS

Make your first deposit & and bet up to $500

If your first bet loses, get up to $500 back in bonus bets

Must be 21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF
Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus

Create a new DraftKings Sportsbook account and make your first deposit (min $5)

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.
Underdog Fantasy
First deposit is 100% matched up to $500 with Underdog Fantasy!

Sign up for a new account with Underdog Fantasy

Make your first deposit

Every dollar (up to $500) will be matched! Deposit $25, get $50; deposit $100, get $200, etc

Must be 21+ to play. Terms & conditions apply
By signing up you agree to our terms and privacy policy