It almost seems unfair.
The Patriots get to open the season against a pair of rookie quarterbacks, and that is historically a very good thing for them.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the Patriots are 13-4 against rookie quarterbacks under coach Bill Belichick, which serves as a good sign as they prepare to play E.J. Manuel and the Bills followed by Geno Smith and the Jets on a short week.
The league as a whole has a .579 winning percentage against rookie passers, so the Patriots’ .765 is well ahead of the curve.
“You want to take advantage of him not being in an actual NFL game,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said of Manuel. “Preseason is still the NFL, but it’s not as fast. The first game is a lot faster. I remember last year, my first game was crazy as heck with how many people were flying around. But we still are going to do what we have to do. At the end of the day, we’re going to try to come after him.”
No rookie making his first start has ever beaten the Patriots under Belichick, as Manuel tries to avoid joinning Luke McCown (Browns, 2004), Matt Flynn (Packers, 2010), Tyler Palko (Chiefs, 2011) and Jake Locker (Titans, 2012).
Of course, that stat has as much to do with context as Belichick’s wizardry sometimes, as very few really good teams are ever handed over to rookie quarterbacks.