The Super Bowl Champs Are Here, or Are They?

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The Super Bowl Champs Are Here, or Are They?
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The New England Patriots had come off a 16-0 season but had suffered a comeback loss by the Giants in the Super Bowl, so last season New England looked to finish the job and go all the way.

In the second half of the first game of the season against the Chiefs, Tom Brady was hit at the knees and the injury ended his 2008 season. Even though it was sad to see Brady go down, the AFC rejoiced as the conference became wide open.

The Patriots did not go and cry in the corner, but in reality barely missed a step with back up Matt Cassel at the helm. Cassel had a learning curve and it showed in the beginning, but in the back half of the season the team couldn’t tell Brady was gone.

The Patriots went 11-5 for the season and turned a seventh round pick into a franchise quarterback in the eyes of the Chiefs, ironically, and gained a second round pick.

 

The Good

Only one thing matters, TOM BRADY IS BACK!

Tom Brady is rearing to go and now has an even better receiving core to torch teams with. The decision making, the arm, and Randy Moss’ favorite guy are all back.

The receiving core that the Patriots have now is better than the one the team had when Brady threw 50 touchdowns, which is just scary. The ever great Randy Moss is still around and now his favorite quarterback is here to throw 15-20 touchdowns.

The small guy of the group, Wes Welker, has only improved by leading the league in receptions over the past three years and once again will be a challenge for even the best of corners to cover.

The newest additions are receiver Joey Galloway, who has impressive speed for an old man, and tight end Alex Smith, who a couple years ago everyone thought would end up a top five tight end. They will improve the greatest offense in the AFC.

The offensive line is very underrated even when it’s healthy. This is not a group of big guys, but their continuity makes them good. They know how each other moves and their technique is fantastic. They will need to stay healthy this year to protect Brady from the big defensive lines the Patriots will face this season.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski has filled in for Adam Vinatieri, granted he has yet to be put under the same pressure. He has come through big since granted the starting job and is becoming one of the top kickers in the NFL.

 

The Bad

The defense is rated preseason to be top 10, so why is it bad? The answer is it has gained many talented young players, but lost a lot of experience and talent among its more veteran players.

The defensive line is still anchored, and I mean anchored, by tackle Vince Wilfork and end Ty Warren, but end Richard Seymour is getting older and does not look like the dominant end from a few years ago.

The linebacker core still has Tedy Bruschi commanding the defense and is still talented with players like Jerod Mayo, but now it does not have the veteran Mike Vrabel on the outside as he was traded with Cassel to the Chiefs.

The secondary is the most questionable part of the defense. The Patriots used the first of four second round picks to draft, who some consider, the best safety in the draft in Patrick Chung who is said to hit like former Bucs and Broncos safety John Lynch.

The Patriots also drafted corner Darius Butler and he is favored to be starter by mid-season. The problem, other than youth, is the secondary lost corner Ellis Hobbs and safety Rodney Harrison, and added Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs. Both of these men are average corners now and with such a difficult schedule could be seeing a lot of points put up against them.

 

The Ugly

The Patriots still have running back issues. Laurence Maroney has been a failure and if he makes it half way through the season without an injury, the Patriots should rejoice. The Patriots have Sammy Morris who looked like he might be the No. 1 back, but he too suffered an injury.

Because of these insecurities, the Patriots signed veteran running back Fred Taylor. Taylor is a power back that will get the tough yards, but guess what, he has had a history of injuries that have ailed his career. The Patriots might be the AFC equivalent to last year’s Arizona Cardinals.

 

Fantasy

Tom Brady is awesome and is the best fantasy quarterbacks in the draft. I have seen him drafted as high as third overall, but I would not be surprised if he went higher.

Randy Moss is a No. 1 receiver, especially since Brady is back and will put up huge numbers again if Brady stays healthy.

Wes Welker is always in the top three in receptions and since he joined the Patriots, he has had at least 1,000 yards receiving each year.

Stephen Gostkowski is considered the best fantasy kicker in the league because of the countless points the Patriots will put up this season. Some have drafted him as high as the fifth round.

There are two sleepers with the first being Fred Taylor. If he stays healthy for most of the season, he should gain a good amount of yards. Because of the stacked receiving core, there will be seven and maybe even six in the box which means big gains for Taylor behind the Patriot line.

The other sleeper is Joey Galloway. He will get a lot of single coverage and his numbers will go up even more if the Patriots’ running backs stay injury prone.

11-5.

First place.

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