The best team of the 2007 NFL, Tom Brady & the New England Patriots are back to take the Super Bowl Title in 2008.
New England Patriots: Overview
Coming within a breath of a perfect season and the Super Bowl Title, the 2007 New England Patriots were the unquestioned rulers of the NFL regular season. Only a pass rush and a few circus plays from the New York Giants cost QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots the gold. With much of the 2007 core returning, there is nothing to stop the New England Patriots from running the table on the way to their next Super Bowl championship.
New England Patriots: Off-Season
Due to a savvy trade with the San Francisco 49ers in 2007, the New England Patriots held the 7th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. As the New England Patriots love to do, they traded down a few spots, picking up more draft picks. The 10th selection in the 2008 NFL Draft was used on ILB Jerod Mayo. The versatile linebacker Jerod Mayo fits the classic New England Patriot LB model and will be a starter right away. The New England Patriots replenished their free agency devastated secondary with draftees CBs Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite. With the exception of QB Kevin O'Connell, all of the New England Patriots picks were used on the secondary and linebacking corps.
Free agency hit the New England Patriots hard with CBs Asante Samuel and Randal Gay leaving. OLB Rosevelt Colvin was released along with TE Kyle Brady and WR Donte Stallworth. To replace these valuable players, the New England Patriots signed DBs Tank Williams, Fernando Bryant, and Jason Webster. LB Victor Hobson comes over from the rival New York Jets where he played in a similar system.
New England Patriots: Offense
The New England Patriots offense set records in 2007. QB Tom Brady has been the catalyst of the offense, with deep bombs and careful short range passes. The offensive line has been strong for years but was no match for the New York Giants pass rush in the Super Bowl. LT Matt Light has anchored the line and protected Tom Brady's blindside for years. RT Nick Kaczur, Guards Stephen Neal and Logan Mankins, and C Dan Koppen make up the rest of the O-line and have all been to the NFL Pro-Bowl.
The New England Patriots skill position players have gotten much media coverage, and for good reason. Possible future Hall-of-Fame WR Randy Moss experienced a career comeback in 2007 and broke the record for most receiving touchdowns in a single season. With amazing hands, blazing speed, and unrivaled vertical ability, Randy Moss is one of the complete wide outs in the NFL. Slot WR Wes Welker was the breakout star of 2007. The small WR tied for the NFL lead in receptions and is a first-down-making machine. TE Benjamin Watson is one of the fastest at his position. Though the running game was not much of a factor in 2007, RB Laurence Maroney is an incredible power runner who provides a nice decoy/change of pace, for the New England Patriots' pass-happy offense.
New England Patriots: Defense
The longtime heart of the New England Patriots, the innovative and complex 3-4 alignment, got a much needed influx of youth in the off-season. Pro-Bowl NT Vince Wilfork is a blocker eating force in the middle. DEs Richard Seymour and Ty Warren are effective run stoppers and rush the passer as well. OLBs Adalius Thomas and Mike Vrabel are a devastating pass-rushing duo. ILB Teddy Bruschi is joined inside by 1st round pick Jerod Mayo, who brings speed and youth to the veteran linebacking corps.
The powerful secondary of the New England Patriots lost a lot of talent in the off-season. CBs Ellis Hobbs, Fernando Bryant, and Jason Webster have big shoes to fill. The zone system of the New England Patriots allows for DBs that maybe aren't superstars to shine. Veteran S Rodney Harrison leads the secondary with a fiery spirit and bone-breaking hits. S Brandon Meriweather brings youth and athleticism to the secondary and a mean streak rivaling Rodney Harrison.
New England Patriots: Special Teams
Kick-return duties are shared by RB Laurence Maroney and DB Ellis Hobbs. The duo has done considerable damage, especially Laurence Maroney who plows over closing defenders. WR Wes Welker is a dynamic punt returner, utilizing the same agility that makes him the best slot man in the NFL. K Stephen Gostkowski has filled in well for Adam Vinatieari over the past few seasons. P Chris Hanson is one of the most accurate punters in the game and has won the field position battle for the New England Patriots many times.
New England Patriots: Outlook
The New England Patriots are all set to run through the AFC East once again. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are on the New England Patriots schedule twice and the rebuilding teams should not be a problem. The rising Buffalo Bills will be contenders to upset the New England Patriots AFC East Title hopes. Outside the AFC East, the New England Patriots schedule includes the Pittsburgh Steelers, along with rivals the Indianapolis Colts and the San Diego Chargers. Outside those few elite teams, the New England Patriots face a light 2008 schedule.
With Bill Belichick at the helm and Tom Brady behind center, the New England Patriots are always a threat to win it all. With Randy Moss secured in a new long-term deal and Wes Welker ready for action, the NFL is a wide open playground for the New England Patriots to run through in the 2008-09 season.