With the autumn air slowly venturing toward Massachusetts, it can only mean one thing… football is back, which translates into another NFL season in New England. For many Patriots fans, last year was quite the rollercoaster. Tom Brady, the best and a future hall of fame quarterback went down nearly 7-minutes into the 2008 season, which exploded Patriots Nation into concern, chaos and many people jumping ship before Matt Cassel’s beautiful 50-yard pass to Randy Moss. The Patriots did prevail with a defensive stop to end week 1, but when the word on the street broke that Brady would be sidelined for the entire season it only meant that anything could happen. In the end, the Patriots finished with an 11-5 record, but did not receive an invitation to the second season.
Months have passed, moves have been executed, draft picks have inked their name on the dotted line, and everyone in Foxboro is eagerly anticipating another season that will hopefully end with a tickertape parade through the streets of Boston. Yet, there are still a lot of burning questions and concerns, but luckily I have some answers!
1.) Will Tom Brady return to old form following his ACL and MCL surgery?
Lets be completely honest, Tom Brady will be fine, but he needs to get protected by his offensive line. After talking this summer with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, you just get the sense that this quarterback is a true gamer and so excited for some football. Brady wants to play, but also seems eager to bring on the trash-talking defensive linemen, such as Albert Haynesworth, who drilled him to the FedEx field turf during week 3 of the pre-season. Everyone has commented how excited and enthusiastic he appeared in camp this summer, which hopefully will be a good thing come kick-off. In the end, Tom Brady will throw 35 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and total 4,023 passing yards.
2.) Will the departure of Richard Seymour have any affect?
None at all! Brady told the media that these things happen all the time. Remember when Lawyer Milloy was cut just days before the season opener in 2003? How much did that hurt the Patriots? Not too much since they did go onto win the next two Super Bowls. It will be different not seeing number 93 on the field, but being prone to injury over the past couple of seasons, it is time to start using our youngsters and grooming them into champions.
3.) Who will emerge as a key leader?
Jerod Mayo. Even though he is entering his sophomore year, he should continue his success from 2008. With Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour no longer sporting the red, white, and blue, Mayo will be someone to watch for this fall as one of the key anchors on defense, on the sidelines, and in the locker-room.
4.) What are the games to watch for this fall?
Week 2 at New York Jets – How excited will you be once the sixtieth minute hits and Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan actually does kiss Belichick’s three Super Bowl rings? All the chatter will stop this week, but look for an exciting Patriots offense vs. Jets defense match-up.
Week 4 vs. Baltimore Ravens – I cannot wait to see Joe Flacco and the rest of the Ravens when they march onto the Gillette Stadium turf. This game will be physical and now that Tom Brady is back Baltimore will want revenge from their 2007 heartbreaking defeat.
Week 10 at Indianapolis- One of the greatest match-ups in the 21st century. Who doesn’t like Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady? Should be another exciting chapter in the Colts-Patriots rivalry.
Week 12 at New Orleans – New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is scary, especially when he utilizes his entire offense. This will be a Monday Night Football game that you won’t want to miss because this could turn into an old fashion offensive shoot out!
Week 13 at Miami – Going down to Miami in December… not going to be easy! In 2006 the Dolphins won 21-0, as well as in 2004 Dolphins they came back on Monday Night Football to beat the Patriots 29-28.
5.) What is the projected record?
12-4. As much as I would love to see the Patriots run the table completely, it will not happen. I will admit though if this team remains healthy and all the potential is seen, they could be a scary team, especially down the stretch. Also, sorry Jets, Dolphins, and Bills fans… the Patriots are a sure lock to run the table in the AFC East.
Overall, I am predicting a successful season for the New England Patriots, who in my opinion will be battling the Pittsburgh Steelers for a chance to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLIV. What a great AFC Championship that will be! Enjoy the season everyone and Go Patriots!