Training camps are underway. The preseason has officially kicked off and the 2015 regular season is just weeks away. With that, let’s continue our look at the NFL, team by team, highlighting the good news, the bad news, and the overall impression.
New England Patriots (12-4, 4-2 Div.)
Good News – Bill Belichick is still the head coach.
I don’t know what it is about Bill Belichick, but the guy always seems to win when he seems to have run out of options. He gets busted for SpyGate and has an undefeated regular season. He loses his Hall of Fame quarterback and goes 11-5. He gets caught deflating footballs and wins the Super Bowl. Once again, he faces serious adversity heading into 2015. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Tom Brady has been suspended for the first four games of the season for his role in the deflation of footballs in the AFC Championship game, thrusting second-year backup Jimmy Garoppolo into the starting job. Luckily for the Patriots, Bill Belichick has been here before. In 2008, Tom Brady tore his ACL in week one of the regular season and was out for the year. Matt Cassel then took over, and the team went 11-5. The circumstances here are very similar, except Brady will only miss four games at most. Belichick knows how to keep the winning ways going. Plus, he is a pro at giving solid sound bites.
In case you missed it, the reporter asked what the common thread is to everytime he faces Peyton Manning to which Belichick simply says, “I guess Manning.”
Bad News – The Patriots have no secondary.
That’s right. Tom Brady’s suspension is not the biggest problem in New England. His appeal drama has overshadowed the fact that the Patriots’ defensive backfield from a year ago is gone. Darrelle Revis is back in New York. Brandon Browner is in New Orleans. Kyle Arrington is in Baltimore. The Patriots did re-sign safety Devin McCourty, but the favorite to start at corner is not that encouraging. Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, an undrafted free agent last year, likely will be the starting corner in 2015. Yes, he made a great play on the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX, but he is a HUGE step down from the duo of Revis and Browner. At the end of the day, Butler has only started one game in his career and has three pass deflections and only that end zone interception to his name. Want to see the transition of the Patriots secondary? Check out this video on Darrelle Revis from the NFL’s official YouTube channel. It should sum things up pretty well.
The Patriots will still win this division. If anything, just look at the quarterbacks that also play in the AFC East: Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick (at least for a while) and somebody in Buffalo (a three-headed quarterback race is not a good sign). Tom Brady will only miss four games at most. The teams the Patriots will face in that time? The Steelers, Bills, Jaguars, and Cowboys. New England will likely go 1 and 3 in that stretch, possibly 2 and 2 (the Bills matchup is a tough call). Tom Brady returns for the Patriots’ week six matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, a game the Patriots should win, simply because the Colts’ defense still will not be able to stop New England’s run game. The Patriots then have a four game stretch that should be a breeze. They face the Jets, Dolphins, Redskins, and Giants in that time. That then puts New England at 6 and 3, possibly 7 and 2. Either way, they’re back in the driver’s seat to win the AFC East.
Image from Rukkus