Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower and Alfonzo Dennard have a full season under their belts.
The Patriots will not have to rely completely on their offense in order to win this season, as opposed to last season. Their defense will be stronger in every department.
The secondary has been the Pats' biggest weakness for quite some time now. This has, for the most part, been the major reason why the team has been a part of so many offensive shootouts recently.
Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington all return for the Patriots at cornerback. Talib and Dennard became starters toward the end of the season, and the defense benefited greatly because of it. If he finally stays healthy, Ras-I Dowling can also be great in coverage as well.
Former Arizona Cardinals heavy hitter Adrian Wilson joins Devin McCourty and Tavon Wilson back at safety. McCourty seemed to fit in nicely at free safety last season, especially with Talib and Dennard at the corners.
Talib is playing for a contract, so expect a big season from him. Also in his final season under contract is linebacker Brandon Spikes, who took time out to work on his skills in coverage earlier this summer.
With a stacked linebacker unit consisting of a motivated Spikes, who is looking to cash in at season's end, Dont'a Hightower and Jerod Mayo, it's going to be tough for teams to run on the Pats.
Hightower and Chandler Jones, both entering their second seasons in the NFL, will be pressuring opposing quarterbacks left and right. Add Rob Ninkovich and potentially rookie Jamie Collins, offensive linemen better get ready to face some serious pass-rushers.
Also, let's not forget Vince Wilfork, who will be paired next to the 6'6" 325-pound Tommy Kelly. The Patriots defense will fair much better in 2013.