Welcome to the 2018 NFL season. A season that is full of ups and downs that lead deep into the cold winter up in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Every single season, the Patriots are in the mix to win the AFC. Patriots’ fans don’t care how it happens but they expect their team under Tom Brady to be playing into early February. This season is no different. Only time will tell whether one of footballs greatest dynasties will push forward into another dominant chapter or end their 15-year reign.
A very thin group of WRs:
An offseason that saw some of Tom Brady’s most reliable targets move has left a very thin wide receiving core in New England. Brandin Cooks, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola are all on new teams and newly signed Eric Decker has retired from football.
What remains is Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, newly acquired Cordarrelle Patterson and seldom used Phillip Dorsett. Yes, a very thin core indeed. Not to mention the fact that Julian Edelman, by far Tom Brady’s most reliable target, is serving a four-game suspension. Despite having a Rob Gronkowski safety net, Brady will have to lean on a very thin wide receiving core that lacks experience in an offense for one of the top teams in football. The wide receiving core needs to limp to week five so that they can get Julian Edelman back. In an emergency situation, veteran special teams captain Matthew Slater would have to run routes.
A Talented group of running backs:
During the offseason, the Patriots added Jeremy Hill and drafted Sony Michel to an already talented group. They released Dion Lewis and retained both James White and Rex Burkhead. They now have four weapons who can all affect the game in a different way.
Rex Burkhead, James White, Sony Michel and Jeremy Hill are all going to be huge weapons in the passing game and out in space to add more of a threat to an already dangerous offense. Ultimately almost every one of the running backs listed above are all viable options in the open field. The Patriots are looking to get the backs out in space and create more weapons for defenses to stop.
The same old defense:
Malcolm Butler is the biggest name lost this offseason. The Patriots defense now looks for Stephon Gilmore to take on a bigger role in the secondary. The defense leans on him due to the front seven.
Year in and year out the Patriots are one of the best run defenses in football. Vince Wilfork was a big reason for that, however, the players are different but the premise is the same. Running the football on the New England Patriots is a difficult task. Defensive captain, Dont’a Hightower is back after he missed nearly all of the 2017 season and is back to full strength.
With all the new guys and guys returning from injury and accepting bigger roles, the New England Patriots defense will improve the more they play together. Despite losing Butler in the secondary, the Patriots pass rush has the potential to be better which will limit the amount of time in coverage. With their top three leading sack getters in 2017 returning this season in Trey Flowers (6.5), Kyle Van Noy (5.5) and Deatrich Wise (5) they are planning to be a little more aggressive to not put so much pressure on their maturing secondary.
There is never a reason to count the New England Patriots out. Despite having a shaky defense and a thin wide receiving core the Patriots are looking to continue their dominance over the AFC East and the AFC as a whole. They do have Tom Brady, and with Tom Brady, there is no reason to panic up in Foxboro.
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