NFL Team Previews: New England Patriots

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NFL Team Previews: New England Patriots
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Pigskin Heaven's Sascha Bartels is breaking down every single team in the NFL prior to the season. Here is his analysis and forecast for the New England Patriots. Click on a team to read their preview.

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC North: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT

AFC South: IND | HOU | JAX | TEN

AFC West: DEN | KAN | OAK | SDG

NFC East: DAL | NYG | PHI | WAS

NFC North: CHI | DET | GBA | MIN

NFC South: ATL | CAR | NOL | TBA

NFC West: ARI | STL | SFO | SEA

 

What’s new?

New England comes into 2009 with a handful of changes, namely, a healthy Tom Brady and no Matt Cassell. But there was other news as well.

They added receivers Greg Lewis and Joey Galloway to the mix to replace the likes of Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney.

They lose a lot of veteran leadership, including Rodney Harrison, but they do find some young talent elsewhere, picking up guys like Leigh Bodden and Alex Smith, the tight end.

The Patriots ended up finding themselves outside of the first round on draft day, but did pick four times in round twp and twice more in round three, stocking up on secondary help and hoping for some help in the trenches.

The hard hitting Patrick Chung quickly has to try to fill Harrison’s shoes. Darius Butler was a very good pick, and Ron Brace can learn from some of the best in the game, but I found much of the Patriots draft quite questionable.

 

Three burning questions

Can the offense resemble anything close to 2007?

Brady’s back, as is Moss, Welker, and Maroney.

On top of that, they added Galloway and Lewis. Seems like a repeat performance, right?

Probably not. Moss is 32 now, and while that’s certainly not a death sentence, he isn’t exactly a spring chicken anymore.

Galloway? Even worse. He’ll be 38 in November and is coming off an injury plagued season. But most important to this offense is its line. It showed some signs of cracking late in 2007, and wasn’t exactly great in 2008.

The Patriots will certainly produce points, but not at the pace they did two years ago.

Not even close.

Will the defense be able to match the offense?

This is kind of a reverse from a few years ago, when the Pats had the game’s best front seven, and a great defense that had no problem stringing the offense along with them.

Gone are the veterans LBs they so relied on, no more Vrabel, no more Seau. Bruschi is on his last leg, and Thomas seems to be declining by the minute.

Add to that the fact Ty Warren is now on the PUP list, it could spell some trouble for the Patriots.

Will Mayo be able to repeat his rookie performance? Can guys like Paris Lenon and Shawn Crayton step into their roles without missing a beat?

Only time will tell.

Is Matt Cassell, Version 2.0, on the roster?

I know last year taught me one thing. Do not judge Patriot backup QBs by their preseason performance.

Cassell was horrendous, and Gutierrez was worse than that. I know that before last season, Brady hadn’t missed a game, but the simple reality in the NFL is that QBs get banged up. Not usually for the season, but often for a game here and there.

Is Kevin O’Connell going to be the guy that steps in if needed and keep the Patriots' train on track?

Prognosis

For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article, here.

This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels, you can read it, more of Sascha's articles and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff, here.

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