Saturday, August 24, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - New England Patriots

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS                                              

Head Coach: Bill Belichick

2012 Record: 12-4-0 (1st in AFC East)

New Players: WR Danny Amendola; QB Tim Tebow; DL Tommy Kelly; S Adrian Wilson.

Gone Elsewhere: WR Wes Welker; WR Brandon Lloyd; S Patrick Chung; OL Donald Thomas; RB Danny Woodhead; TE Aaron Hernandez (under arrest/prison).

Offense: What more can you say about future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady?
All he did last season was pass for 4,827 yards with 34 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in 637 attempts. This was done with a new slew of receivers (except for top receiver Wes Welker) and now he gets to do it again this year as Welker left for Denver during the off-season while another starter, Brandon Lloyd, also left the team.
Enter Danny Amendola, who caught 63 passes for 666 yards and three touchdowns with St. Louis last year.
Along with Amendola, the Patriots will have Julian Edelman (21 receptions for 235 yards and three scores) as well as rookies Aaron Dobson (Marshall) and Josh Boyce (TCU). Unproven Kamar Aiken is getting a long look in the pre-season.

QB Tom Brady
The tight end spot was a worry free zone for the past three seasons in New England, but this season there are questions galore.
Rob Gronkowski had multiple surgeries in the off-season and his status is still uncertain as the season opener looms. If he is healthy and ready to go, Gronkowski (55 receptions, 790 yards and 11 TD in 11 games in 2012) is one of the premier tight ends in the league.

Then of course, there is the Aaron Hernandez story.

The former Patriots tight end was immediately cut when it was learned he was indicted on murder charges this past summer. So much for him in the NFL.
The other options for New England at tight end is Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanawanui.
The running game was very effective last season, gaining 137 yards per game last year with Stevan Ridley (1,263 yards, 4.4 ypc average and 12 TD) leading the way. Shane Vereen (251 yards and three TD) and Brandon Bolden (274 yards and two scores), along with newcomer and former 1,000-yard rusher LeGarrette Blount, add depth to the roster.
The line is one of the better ones around the NFL, led by center Ryan Wendell, guards Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly and tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer.

Defense: This unit finished 25th (allowing 373 yards a game) in the NFL last year, allowing 102 yards rushing (6th in NFL) but were torched by opponents for 271 passing yards per game, which was 29th in the league.
Defensive Tackle Vince Wilfork
Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are the tackles up front along with ends Rob Ninkovich (eight QB sacks) and Chandler Jones, who registered six sacks. The linebackers include Brandon Spikes (MLB) and outside linebackers Dont'a Hightower (four sacks) and Jerod Mayo.

The secondary is getting an overhaul as safety Patrick Chung left the team in the off-season. He will be replaced by cagey veteran Adrian Wilson. The other safety is Devin McCourty, who made five interceptions last season. The corners will be Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard. Kyle Arrington, Steve Gregory (three INT) and Tavon Wilson (four picks) add depth.

OUTLOOK: It seems that the Patriots have a way of plugging in players around Brady and the offense just continues to hum along.
Head Coach Bill Belichick knows what he has with Brady, but there are some serious question marks revolving around the receivers this year. The apparent lack of a burner on the outside could be a problem for the team, but adding Amendola will be a benefit as he is a player in the mold of Wes Welker, who was Brady's favorite target the past six seasons.
And what about Rob Gronkowski? He has to return to form (provided he is one hundred percent healthy this season) because the Pats are lacking at the tight end spot with Gronk injured and not having Aaron Hernandez any more.
Given their track record, the Patriots will likely figure it out quickly and continue to be among the top of the heap on offense. Last season, they led the league in scoring (557 points) while also ranking number one in total yardage with 428 yards per game, including fourth best in passing and seventh in rushing offense.
The defense looks to be improved against the pass coming into 2013, but only time will tell. The run defense is solid with big Vince Wilfork and company up front.
Look for more of the same (barring any major players getting injured) from the Patriots this season as they attempt to get back to the Super Bowl and possibly win one for the first time in nearly ten years.
A 12-4 finish is likely and how far they can go in the post-season will depend on the defense and the experience factor for the newcomers on offense. But with Brady at the controls, don't bet against the Patriots reaching another Super Bowl.


Sept. 8- at Buffalo
Sept. 12- vs. NY Jets
Sept. 22- vs. Tampa Bay
Sept. 29- at Atlanta
Oct. 6- at Cincinnati
Oct. 13- vs. New Orleans
Oct. 20- at NY Jets
Oct. 27- vs. Miami
Nov. 3- vs. Pittsburgh
Nov. 10- BYE WEEK
Nov. 18- at Carolina
Nov. 24- vs. Denver
Dec. 1- at Houston
Dec. 8- vs. Cleveland
Dec. 15- at Miami
Dec. 22- at Baltimore
Dec. 29- vs. Buffalo

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