Super Bowl hangover anyone? We always expect them to come back strong from adversity but are we now asking too much?
Reasons to be cheerful?
The main thing for New England is how poor the AFC East is. The Dolphins look their strongest competitors and they have plenty still to prove with a coach who may be trying to save his position. The Jets and Bills are playing Rookie QBs which Belichick and Co. simply don’t lose too. There is every chance that the Pats sweep the division and take their 13th AFC East title in 15 years.
Gronk hasn’t retired…
Brady hasn’t retired…
Belichick hasn’t retired… All these are cataclysmic events that are closer than N.E Fans want to believe, but for now the holy trio is intact.
The RB stable is still brilliant. Gone is Dion Lewis (To Tennessee) but in comes Sony Michel (1st rd pick). Rex Burkhead and James White return for another season and Jeremy Hill takes over the power-back role from Mike Gillislee.
Adding Adrian Clayborn from the Falcons really improves the Pass-rush, something the Pats struggled with hugely last season.
Reasons to be fearful?
Julian Edleman is suspended for PEDs until week 5 and the WR group is exceptionally thin. Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett are the top 3 names on the depth chart for now. Brady often works with sub-par groups and still gets the best from them but its asking a lot to keep that up. Teams are unlikely to feel threatened, and if Gronk gets injured (always likely) the Pats are in trouble.
Sony Michel is a talent…but he begins the year without a pre-season and nursing a knee complaint that held him back at times in college. If he doesn’t appear by week 4-5 I’d be concerned that the injury is worse than feared.
Losing Left Tackle Nate Solder to the Giants is the biggest hiccup that N.E have faced, especially when you consider that Isiah Wynn was drafted in the first rd to replace him as a plug-in and play option only to tear his ACL and be ruled out for the year. Brady could be running for his life and he doesn’t run fast!
How does the season shape up?
Domination of the AFC East is almost assured but beyond that there are tough games against The Texans, the Jags and Vikings who all have top class defensive fronts. Consistent rumours over Brady/Belichick about their relationship and imminent retirement will get tiresome fast.
Playoffs? Yes, and a victory in the Wildcard weekend game but no further, the team simply hasn’t got the strength in depth required.