It was a disappointing conclusion to the 2010 season as the New England Patriots fell to the New York Jets 28-21 in the AFC Divisional Round. For Pats fans, the loss felt like a punch to the gut only amplified by Bart Scott's ridiculous post-game interview.
Many lamented the loss: How could the mighty Patriots fall to the typically lowly Jets (a team the Patriots defeated 45-3 in Week 13)? Others took solace in the fact that the Jets fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers a week later, ending their Super Bowl dreams.
This offseason, Bill Belichick drafted well, as usual, addressing (almost) all of the Pats' needs as well as garnering more future draft picks. The rookie class is full of talent (including highly-rated quarterback Ryan Mallett and spell-check prone Ras-I Dowling), but the core group remains in tact.
It seems strange that the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since 2004, considering they've been one of the top regular-season teams, qualifying for the playoffs in every season except 2008. The window for this group—Wes Welker, Vince Wilfork, dare I say Tom Brady—is closing, but here's five players who could break out in 2011 and help the Pats back to elite status.