New England Patriots 2009 NFL Projection:
The New England Patriots have suffered four traumatic season ends in a row;
- In 2006, a divisional playoff
loss in Denver... A game in which the Pats out-yarded the Broncos 2 to 1
and should have won going away.
- In 2007, an AFC championship game loss at Indianapolis in which New England
squandered an 18 point lead.
- Giving up the game winning TD with less than 60 seconds in Super Bowl XLII
against the Giants to ruin the ultimate perfect season.
- And last season, compiling a record of (11-5) with backup QB Matt Cassel at the helm
for the injured Tom Brady, but
somehow getting left out of the playoffs.
Coming into 2009, Scott Pioli is gone, Josh McDaniels is gone, Mike Vrabel is gone,
Rodney Harrison retired, Teddy Bruschi retired (has any player made more big stops on 3rd & 1 and 4th & 1
in playoff games over the past 10+ years than Bruschi?) Suddenly Richard Seymour is gone,
and of course Matt Cassel is gone, but........... Tom Brady is back...
The Patriots also plugged some holes by adding cornerbacks Leigh Bodden and Shawn Springs.
And added the veteran presences of Fred Taylor and Joey Galloway, plus
The Patriots return a solid offensive line with Mankins, Kaczur,
Neal, Light, and Koppen... Plus
great wide receivers and
plenty of running backs. Expect the offense to once again be a force.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots are hoping Springs and Bodden will be an upgrade
compared to last season's pass defense.
New England also used a slew of second round draft picks to
add free safety Patrick Chung from Oregon, and cornerback Darius Butler from Connecticut.
It seems likely this unit will perform well, especially since the Patriots are healthy
and deep on the defensive line... So deep in fact they just traded Richard Seymour to Oakland for a 1st round pick
in the 2011 draft (9/6/2009).
The D-line is still plenty stacked with Wilfork, Warren, Green, and 2nd round pick Ron Brace of
Boston College. And don't forget they essentially "stole"
former sack machine Derrick Burgess from the Raiders.
The biggest hole appears to be at outside linebacker as Vrabel was surprisingly traded to the Chiefs.
However, Pierre Woods looked very good when on the field last season. And perhaps the Patriots will use
Burgess in this role too... The Patriots have an amazing track record with veterans they've signed in the past,
and there's every reason to believe that success will continue.
Overall, the Patriots will play a modest 7 games against playoff teams from a year ago as follows;
As you can see, the majority of these games are at home.
And their trip to Miami is late in the season after the heat has dissipated.
They also draw warm weather Carolina at home in cold, December.
Considering on paper New England is supposed to have one of the toughest schedules in the league,
I believe things line up quite nicely for the Patriots.
The Patriots lost some key veterans, but they added several others as well. It's likely to come out in the wash.
This team is well coached. As long as key players like Brady, Moss, and Wilfork are healthy, the
Patriots should be able to reclaim the AFC East. Our season forecast now
calls for a record of (12-4)... A slight downgrade (9/6/09) on the heels of the Seymour trade.
It's a long season and in spite of the Patriots' depth on their defensive line, Seymour could prove to be missed.
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