The coming season is a tough one to predict for Patriots fans as it has so many variables attached. There are many questions like how will the young players play as we rely on them so much, will we get through our tough schedule and then you still never know what will happen during a NFL season.
The season could easily turn into a disaster if we lose out in some of the bigger games with our tough schedule, but the season could just as easily turn into yet another Super Bowl run. Here are the ten players that I think hold the key to whether the season will be a hit or a miss.
First on the list is the one and only Wes Welker. Though the only reason why Welker isn't higher on the list is because he isn't a one and only in New England. Julian Edelman has shown he can fill in for Welker very comfortably and he is the only reason Welker only comes in at number 10 in this list.
Despite a built in replacement there is just something about Welker that Brady loves to target, and this makes him a key part of the offense. Simply put, to run on all cylinders the offense needs Welker to be playing well.
I expect Welker to pull in another 100 receptions this season as he starts from week one.
For New England's passing game to be fully utilized, the other team has to respect the Patriots run game. Although it should still be a committee approach, look for Taylor to come back from a injury riddled season to lead the Patriots in rushing.
Taylor looked like he can handle the majority of the carries when he impressed many during the preseason game against Atlanta. Don't expect huge stats from him but expect him to lead the running backs to a good season altogether.
Logan Mankins is all but gone, Stephen Neal is Injury Prone, Matt Light is coming off an injury filled season and Nick Kaczur might be out for the season. All those are reasons why Vollmer needs to perform to the best of his abilities if the line is to protect Brady.
Vollmer had a great season in his rookie year and he has to continue that form to help keep the line from crumbling.
This season will the first season in a while that New England will have a punter that can boom punts fifty yards and still land it in the opponents 20 yard line. Everyone talks about how important special teams and field position is vital, and Mesko should provide a big boost to that.
One thing Mesko struggled with in training camp is consistency with him booming punts right in front of your eyes and then shanking the very next kick out of bounds. So far in games Mesko has been very consistent landing over half his punts in the 20 and averaging 43.3 yards per punt.
Aaron Hernandez could add another wrinkle to an already complicated offense. If Hernandez is on his game it will be near impossible to stop the Patriots offense, which already boasts the likes of Wes Welker and Randy Moss.
Hernandez has already lined up at TE, slot-WR, FB, and even a fully split out wide-out. This shows how much the coaching staff has already thought about how to utilize Hernandez. Expect Hernandez to cause match-up problems against every defense he plays this season.
Meriweather played more defensive snaps than any other Patriots player last season. This season he will look to continue that trend as he becomes a bigger part of the defense.
Fans will want Meriweather to try and step up and become more of a leader in a defense that is lacking in leadership. Look for Meriweather to have another Pro Bowl season.
Mayo had injury troubles last season and only started 12 games. Despite this, Mayo collected his second 100+ tackle year in as many seasons. Mayo is another potential leadership candidate.
Look for Mayo to step up with another 100+ tackle season and make a big push to go to the Pro Bowl.
Randy Moss may be getting older, but in my opinion he hasn't lost a step. Last season Moss struggled with a few injuries like many other Patriots stars did last season. Despite this, Moss still gained 1,264 yards and caught 13 TD passes.
With both Moss and Brady healed, if they hit form, Moss could reach 20 touchdown catches.
Vince would have been much lower on the list in years past, but Wilfork will have to do much more this season with Richard Seymour gone and Ty Warren placed on IR for the season.
To be honest I'm not sure whether Wilfork will be able to carry the whole line by himself, and may need some backups to step up this season.
Quarterback is the most important position on the football field. If your QB is on form you have a much better chance to win. If Brady is fully healed and on form this season it will be pretty hard to stop him from taking his team to the Super Bowl.
Though on the other hand, if Brady gets injured again the Patriots may end up picking in the top half of the draft. Hopefully Brady has a 2007-like season.