NFL Predictions 2011: Why the New England Patriots Won't Make the Playoffs

Chris WarnerContributor IISeptember 9, 2011

NFL Predictions 2011: Why the New England Patriots Won't Make the Playoffs

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    With the additions of some key veterans and promising rookies, the New England Patriots look primed to take the AFC East once again. But after giving the team a closer look, the Patriots reveal some potential pitfalls that could keep them out of contention.

    Sound crazy? Look at the following slideshow where we reveal the 10 biggest issues facing Foxboro this season.

Chad Ochocinco

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    Old No. 85 has looked just that: old.

    Blame the shortened offseason if you’d like, but the veteran receiver has dropped passes and just looked out of place in New England’s complicated offense. If he doesn’t pick it up soon, the offense suffers, which means the team suffers.

Albert Haynesworth

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    Sure, Haynesworth has shown flashes of greatness, but only flashes. The big man might do some good things, but if he fails to bring any consistency, the Patriots defense will fail to live up to expectations. 

Deion Branch

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    Preseason or no, zero receptions won’t impress anyone, least of all a fan base hoping for continued success through the air. Branch has been single-covered this preseason and has shown little ability to break open.

Brandon Meriweather

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    He’s gone, much to the relief of many Patriots watchers who’d gotten sick of his hit-or-miss style.

    Still, with James Sanders gone, can undrafted Sergio Brown and career special teamers James Ihedigbo and Josh Barrett pick up the slack? 

Aaron Hernandez

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    He’s great when he’s healthy, but how long can he stay healthy? The tight end with a receiver’s build got whacked around last year and will probably face similar punishment this season. 

Gary Guyton

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    Guyton gets hung up on every offensive lineman about as often as a paper clip gets hung up on a super magnet. With recent injuries to Dane Fletcher and Brandon Spikes, Guyton might see more time in the middle, which would spell doom for the run defense.

Brian Waters

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    A 34-year-old lineman is like a 26-year-old tennis player; his best playing days are behind him. Still, New England had such a crunch on the O-line that they couldn’t pass on Waters. Definitely a wait-and-see situation.

Nate Solder

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    We have little doubt that the sequoia-like Solder will develop into a solid offensive lineman one day. We also doubt that day is Monday. But, due to a Sebastian Vollmer injury, Solder has to man the right tackle position, opening up quarterback Tom Brady to all kinds of potential pressure. 

Tom Brady

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    The man had only four interceptions last season compared to 36 touchdowns. We doubt he can repeat that type of unanimous MVP performance. He’s the best, but he’s not perfect. If Brady has an “off” year—even for him—it could be a long season in Foxboro. 

Coach Bill Belichick

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    He’s a genius. He’s the best coach in the NFL. So why no playoff victories in four years?

    Every coach wants to measure himself against the best, so every team will come into a New England game ready to give it everything they have. We assume Belichick will be ready most of the time, but given parity in the NFL and the shortened offseason, will Belichick’s coaching have the same advantage?