2009 NFL Preview: #1 New England Patriots

Check out all of our 2009 NFL team previews.

Offseason Additions: Derrick Burgess (DE/OLB); Leigh Bodden (CB); Chris Baker (TE); Joey Galloway (WR); Fred Taylor (RB); Paris Lenon (LB); Tully Banta-Cain (LB).

Offseason Losses: Richard Seymour (DE); Matt Cassel (QB); Rodney Harrison (S); Heath Evans (FB); Jabar Gaffney (WR); LaMont Jordan (RB); Deltha O’Neal (CB); Lewis Sanders (CB).

Player to Watch: Tom Brady, QB.
After missing virtually all of last year following a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 of the season, Brady is completely healthy again and ready to pick up where he left off in 2007 when he led the Patriots to an undefeated regular season. In preseason, Brady looked like the same quarterback that gives coordinators and defensive backs nightmares, routinely hooking up with receiver Randy Moss and showing no ill effects of the injury. By all accounts, it seems like nothing has changed and considering Brady will be protected by the best offensive line in football, New England is once again a Super Bowl favorite.

Team Strength: Thanks to Brady, receivers Moss and Wes Welker, and the best pass-protecting offensive line in football, the Pats’ passing game will once again be lethal. Will it be as explosive as it was in 2007 now that Brady is playing on a repaired knee and former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is now in Denver? It’s definitely a possibility. Brady is completely healthy and even though Moss is another year older, he still commands double teams and that allows Welker to get underneath coverages and burn defenses once he gets into open space. Plus, losing McDaniels isn’t as crippling as one would think because Bill Belichick does such a great job of grooming his assistants that when one moves on, another one takes his place without missing a beat. New England might not average 37 points a game like it did in ’07, but Brady and company will be feared again.

Potential Weakness: The Patriots secondary isn’t a weakness per se, but teams will definitely try to beat them through the air this season. That’s because it’ll be extremely hard to run against New England’s stout front seven. The Pats will have two new starting cornerbacks this year, although both players are well traveled, especially Shawn Springs, who signed in the offseason after spending the last couple years in Washington. Springs has a hard time staying healthy, so watch for Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite or rookie Darius Butler to get a shot to start sometime this season. On the other side, newcomer Leigh Bodden is familiar with New England’s scheme after playing under former Cleveland head coach (and former Pats’ defensive coordinator) Romeo Crennel, so he should be a good fit despite his troubles in the Cover 2 last year in Detroit. At safety, Brandon Meriweather has a ton of potential but must be more aggressive when coming up to defend the run. Free safety James Sanders is steady, although his potential is maxed out.

Outlook: If you’re looking for differences between this year’s version of the Patriots and the one that went 16-0 in 2007, you won’t find many. Brady is completely healthy and as long as he doesn’t suffer any setbacks, this team is going to light up the scoreboard again this year, with or without a top rushing threat. No offensive line works better together as a unit then the starting five of Nick Kaczur, Stephen Neal, Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins and Matt Light in New England. The Patriots traded longtime defensive stalwart Richard Seymour, but also acquired Derrick Burgess from the Raiders in order to boost their pass rush and Adalius Thomas will once again aid in that area as well. Former Defensive Rookie of the Year Jerod Mayo will again be the rock in the middle of the Pats’ defense.

After missing the playoffs last season despite winning 11 games, it’s probably safe to say that Belichick is on a mission again this year. With his multiple Super Bowl-winning quarterback back under center, New England isn’t going to miss a beat and while the Steelers, Chargers, Ravens, Colts and Titans are going to challenge them in the conference, the Patriots are the favorites to represent the AFC in Miami this season.

2009 Prediction: First, AFC East.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts

One response to “2009 NFL Preview: #1 New England Patriots”

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>