2007 Record: 16-0
Major Personnel Losses
Asante Samuel (CB), Randall Gay (CB), Chad Scott (CB), Eugene Wilson (DB), Mel Mitchell (S), Rosevelt Colvin (LB), Junior Seau (LB), Rashad Moore (DL), Troy Brown (WR), Donte Stallworth (WR), Kyle Brady (TE).
Free Agent Signings
Victor Hobson (LB), Fernando Bryant (CB), Lewis Sanders (CB), Jason Webster (CB), Tank Williams (S), Sam Aiken (WR), Marcus Pollard (TE)
Rd 1: Jerod Mayo (LB)
Rd 2: Terrence Wheatley (CB)
Rd 3: Shawn Crable (LB)
Rd 3: Kevin O'Connell (QB)
Rd 4: Jonathan Wilhite (CB)
Rd 5: Matt Slater (WR)
Rd 6: Bo Ruud (LB)
Week 1: Kansas City (W)
Week 2: @ NY Jets (W)
Week 3: Miami (W)
Week 4: Bye
Week 5: @ San Francisco (W)
Week 6: @ San Diego (L)
Week 7: Denver (W)
Week 8: St. Louis (W)
Week 9: @ Indianapolis (L)
Week 10: Buffalo (W)
Week 11: NY Jets (W)
Week 12: @ Miami (W)
Week 13: Pittsburgh (W)
Week 14: @ Seattle (L)
Week 15: @ Oakland (W)
Week 16: Arizona (W)
Week 17: @ Buffalo (W)
Everyone knows about Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and the Patriots' record breaking offense from last year. The only personnel losses were Donte' Stallworth and Troy Brown, who were really the third receiving option behind Randy Moss and Wes Welker. They should be replaced by either Jabar Gaffney, Chad Jackson, or Kelly Washington who is also in the mix.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels also returns, although it may only be a matter of time before he is recruited away to a head coaching position.
Nick Kaczur has a question mark hanging over his head as a result of the Oxycontin Investigation he is a part of. The Patriots have recently brought in Oliver Ross to provide some depth and experience at the right tackle position.
The Patriots' offensive line was overwhelmed in the Superbowl, and struggled against a few defenses towards the end of the season. However, it also gave Tom Brady more time than any other O-Line in the NFL in other games.
The Patriots' use of the four and five WR passing game may have contributed to these vulnerabilities, as there was rarely a tight end or fullback installed to block for blitzing opponents.
The Patriots' running game was not the dominant yard churning offense like San Diego or Minnesota. It was used in conjunction with the short-passing game, as evidenced by the low yardage totals of the rushing game.
Lawrence Maroney seemed to grow as a runner throughout the year, hitting the line with more confidence and power. This was reflected in his performances against Jacksonville and San Diego in the Playoffs, where he rushed for 122 yards in each game.
The passing game was the primary weapon in the undefeated regular season in 2007. With the NFL MVP calling the shots, records were breaking all over the field. However, towards the end of the season—and most notably in the playoffs, teams were determined to ensure that Randy Moss would not defeat them.
Teams like Philadelphia and Baltimore showed that the passing game could be held in check, and that Randy Moss could be contained. With the development of Chad Jackson this year, and the dangerous Wes Welker and Jabar Gaffney inside, Randy Moss should not be facing so many double teams throughout the season.
Despite the defense typically being the strength of Bill Belichick's teams, the Patriots' defense last year was much maligned. Particularly the linebackers, who were labelled slow and unathletic. It is however a veteran group, with or without Junior Seau, who may or may not return to the NFL this year.
The Patriots have added to this group with three linebackers selected in the draft. How these rookies turn out will be interesting. Belichick has always favored veteran linebackers, as the key component in his complicated scheme.
The secondary was decimated in free agency, with the most notable loss being Asante Samuel. However, New England has brought in Dom Capers to coach the secondary, and have added veteran DB's Fernando Bryant, Lewis Sanders, Jason Webster, and Tank Williams.
The development of players who were new to the Patriots last year, such as Brandon Meriweather and Adalius Thomas should provide some strength to offset the losses in the secondary.
The defensive line should also be a strength. Especially with Richard Seymour looking to regain his best form, after battling injuries for the past two years.
While some pundits are predicting another undefeated season, there are several games which the Patriots will not be favored to win. The Patriots have been installed as the favorites to win another Superbowl, and are loaded almost across the field. They do have some tough games however, despite playing in the AFC East.
My predictions above would result in a 13-3 record, however both the Denver and Pittsburgh games could go either way. The two two-week trips to the West coast may also take a toll. There is also potential for injuries given that the bye week is so early in the season.
All that said, the 13-3 record should be enough for a first round bye along with the second seed in the AFC.