Among literally countless other things, the performances of certain players could wind up being a big surprise for the Patriots and their fans and that's what I'll be focusing on. It'd be too difficult to key in on the next drug arrest, the next big injury or the next underdog team to give them a run for their money unexpectedly.
With many players returning from a season filled with injuries and one of the larger draft classes we've seen in awhile getting into the picture there's a lot of opportunities out there for these un-proven players.
Here are my offensive nominees for possible breakout and/or surprising performances (for better or worse) for 2008:
Tom Brady/Randy Moss:Folks, I can all but guarantee that Brady and Moss will still be atop their respective TD record standings by the end of the '08 season, but I'm predicting that those will be from '07 still. Now I'm not saying one or both of them don't have a chance for MVP numbers again, but look for the TDs to tone down a little bit and for Brady to spread the wealth out as well. A season like '07 doesn't come a long every year.
Laurence Maroney/Sammy Morris:Now the addition of FA Lamont Jordan certainly throws a wrench into these plans, but Morris and Maroney very quietly expressed to the media in Foxbourgh that their goals include posting a 1,000 yard season...each. Both of them have that in mind and if both stay healthy I see it as a possibility for both to get close. I think we're going to see the running game looked to with more confidence and more frequently this season and that would allow these two backs to do some serious damage.
Chad Jackson:At this point he's anything but a sleeper with all the coverage and talk about him, but he really does stand a legitimate chance of putting up numbers this season. He's going to catch this year, the amount is just going to depend on his position of the depth chart. If he starts with Moss and Welker we could see a 50 catch 6 TD season out of him which would be great considering this is almost like his rookie season since he's spent so much time on IR in his first two seasons.
David Thomas/Ben Watson:This is going to be a big year for one of them, and that I promise. If Watson stays healthy he could finally reach the level he has shown flashes of in the past. If he doesn't Thomas will get his shot and he may run away with the starting job. Neither of them have a claim to fame blocking, but both possess the ability to catch and run and do it well. They're both health concerns so it'll be interesting to see how they hold up and who comes out with a big season.