Coming off a sub-par season in 2008, 11-5 is sub-par for the Pats, they are back on track for another Super Bowl season.
How about another 16-0 regular season? Is it possible again?
In my eyes, it's very possible. Whether or not it happens, is another story.
The main reason this is possible, Tom Brady. Now that Brady is back on the field, training, and looking as good as ever, the Pats should fall back in love with him taking all the snaps. Brady has been the Patriots leader since 2001.
As a youngster Brady was thrown into the starting role once New England starter Drew Bledsoe went down to injury. Brady won 11 of his 14 games started, passed for over 2,800 yards, and helped New England to a thrilling Super Bowl XXXVI victory of the St. Louis Rams. Brady was named the Super Bowl MVP, and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
Since his first season as a true starter, Brady has done nothing but excel. He's won two more Super Bowl's, and played in another. He has set many Patriot, and NFL records. His play at the quarterback position is very solid, and New England fans missed it dearly a year ago.
The Patriots posted an 11-5 record a year ago without Brady, imagine if they had him. 16-0 maybe? How about 15-1? Either way, they would have flirted, or committed to another perfect regular season.
Another reason for the Pats to be considered another contender for perfection, it's defense. They did lose a very solid corner back in Elliz Hobbs, but you also have to look at what they get back, and have brought in. They will return all of it's usual key guys from 2008.
Richard Seymour, Jerod Mayo, Tedy Bruschi, James Sanders, Brandon Meriweather, and Adalius Thomas all return. They also welcome in Shawn Springs, a gifted corner back who sould help out on many occasions.
They also welcome in some nice defensive additions from the NFL Draft, in Marcus McClinton, Myron Pryor, Patrick Chung, and Darius Butler. The Patriot D will be as strong as ever, look for them to dominate just about every offense they see.
Another big reason for perfection, their offense. Aside from Brady, they get back their top two wide outs, Randy Moss and Wes Welker, their top running backs in Lauren Maroney and Sammy Morris, and their solid tight end in Ben Watson.
That was without mentioning their new arrivals, Fred Taylor, Joey Galloway, and Greg Lewis. They will have a solid stable of running backs and wide out to help compliment Brady. Their offense should be the best in the league. It could be better than 2007's offense, and we all know how tough they were.
The additions of Taylor and Galloway sets this offense aside from their 2007 offense. Now Brady has two more play makers around him, and we all know how he did with just Moss, Welker, and Maroney. Fear this offense opposing defense, fear it.
The special teams should be as solid as always. Hanson will be their punter, and Gostkowski will be their kicker. Don't expect to many field goals from the Patriots though with their high octane offense.
The coaching will be as solid as ever. Belichick is a solid coach. Like him or not, he's the best coach in the NFL. He can motivate these guys like nobody else can, and look for another great coaching performance from him in 2009.
The Patriots have been the true NFL dynasty of the 2000's. The Steelers are close behind, but the Pats are still at the top. I know they haven't had a Super Bowl since 2004, but look for them to get back to the top in 2009.
Whether or not they run the table again is another story. They are very capable of it with this squad. With all that's coming back, and all the new faces, and the limited amount of losses, the Pats can surely taste perfection again in '09.
Brady has to stay healthy, Moss and Welker have to play like they have the past two seasons, and the defense must play as well as it always has.
My prediction for these Pats, I'll say 16-0. I can see them going 14-2, or 15-1, but 16-0 isn't unrealistic. This team looks much better than their 2007 squad on paper, but can they play as well as the '07 team on the field? Or will they choke again in the Super Bowl? Will they even make it to the Super Bowl?
All these questions and more will be exciting to look out for in 2009 from this Patriots team. I'll still stand on my 16-0 prediction though.