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Willie McGinest: Patriots will finish 11-5, with losses to Falcons, Bengals, Broncos

07.15.13 at 9:39 pm ET

Monday night on “NFL Total Access” on NFL Network, former Patriots linebacker/defensive end turned analyst Willie McGinest put his old team under the microscope as part of the “32 Teams in 32 Days” segment. Thanks to the NFL Network PR staff, here’s a transcript of his comments:

On why he believes the Patriots will lose to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4: ‘€œFirst of all, they’€™re going to be on the road. The thing that I’€™m seeing about the Atlanta Falcons, where the Patriots struggle most is in their pass defense; they’€™ve had a hard time with the defensive backfield and stopping the pass and stopping plays down the field. The big plays down the field have been their Achilles heel so if I look at the passing attack with the Falcons versus the Patriots, I know they got better with Adrian Wilson and they re-signed [Aqib] Talib but I think they’€™re going to have a hard time with the Falcons.’€

On why he believes the Patriots will lose to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5: ‘€œThe Patriots usually don’€™t lose two games in a row; history says that. But I look at that pass rush and I look at going into Cincinnati, it’€™s a tough place to play. The pass rush for the Bengals is difficult for the Patriots to handle.’€

On why he believes the Patriots will lose to the Denver Broncos in Week 12: ‘€œThis is a team that has gotten better and they improved in the passing game. Peyton Manning wins this matchup.’€

On who Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will miss more: wide receiver Wes Welker or tight end Aaron Hernandez: ‘€œIt’€™s Wes Welker, without a doubt. Here’€™s a guy with 600-plus receptions in the last six years’€¦You talk about somebody who [Tom Brady] trusts, a guy he can go to who has been consistent, a guy that Tom knows that wherever he puts that ball, whatever adjustments he tells him to make, Wes is going to come up with those big plays. Wes has been one of the top receivers ‘€“ if not the top receiver ‘€“ as far as a quarterback connection with the receiver in the league. Aaron Hernandez was a really good player, up and coming, but when you talk about a guy like Wes, he was everything to the Patriots for the last six years.’€

On if his prediction that the Patriots will finish 11-5 in 2013 speaks more to his belief in quarterback Tom Brady or head coach Bill Belichick: ‘€œBoth’€¦What we leave out is they do have some other players with Danny Amendola; because he hasn’€™t been healthy, we kind of count him out but here’€™s a guy who if he stays healthy, I think he could be significant in that offense. Donald Jones, a guy they picked up, and then [Shane] Vereen out of the backfield. You have to give a little credit to Josh McDaniels as well. He’€™s been able to deal and switch the gameplan depending on his personnel; the Patriots are really, really good at that. If they don’€™t have a player, if more receivers are their strength, the tight ends are down ‘€“ whatever it is, they’€™re able to change things around and change their gameplan according to the personnel that they have.’€

On how big a part the running backs will be in the passing game for Tom Brady: ‘€œIt’€™s going to have to be big. If you look at it, they’€™re probably going to have to run the ball a little bit more and I think they’€™ll lean on that because they have two very good running backs with [Stevan] Ridley and [Shane] Vereen. Vereen creates those mismatches as we’€™ve seen in the playoffs with linebackers when you motion him out and put him on linebackers.’€

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