Projected Record: 11-5
AFC East Rank: 1st
The AFC East has been Patriot East with the Pats winning the 9 of the last 10 division crowns. Led by Tom Brady, the Patriots have faced little competition for a once storied division in the AFC.
With all of the attention surrounding the Aaron Hernandez murder case, many people have forgotten about other the significant losses the Patriots have suffered including Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead and Patrick Chung. Not to mention the uncertainty about Rob Gronkowski and his four surgeries that have earned Gronk the reputation for being injury prone. This might be one the least talented teams Tom Brady has ever played with and with his increasing age, the Patriots could be in some trouble. Despite all of the notable departures, the Patriots still made some significant moves in signing Danny Amendola, Leon Washington and Adrian Wilson. All of whom will be called on to significant roles for the foreseeable future. The most important signing was obviously Danny Amendola who will have to play a Wes Welker type role for the Patriots to succeed. He has his share of injuries, which is troubling, but when he plays he is a dangerous weapon. The Pats also made some crucial re-signings in Kyle Arrington, Julian Edelman, Michael Hoomanawanui, Sebastian Vollmer and Aqib Talib. The most important of these signings was Aqib Talib, a talented but troubled cornerback who played well under immense pressure in New England. Talib helped sure up the Patriots’ secondary last year and hopefully he can live up to his billing for this year. The Pats have one of best coaches in the league in Bill Belichick, who is capable of making the necessary adjustments for this team to succeed and continue on as a perennial Super Bowl contender.
This one is obvious, Danny Amendola will be the key piece to the Patriots run at a fifth straight divisional crown. Amendola was signed to a 5 year-$31 million deal with $10 million guaranteed. He even signed the contract before Wes Welker left, proving he was going to be a key factor whether or not Welker stayed. Amendola plays a similar role to Welker as a slot receiver who can stretch the field and use his lateral quickness to explode into the secondary. The only problem with Amendola is his health as he has missed 20 games over the last two seasons. The Patriots cannot afford an injury and with a heavier workload the propensity for injury becomes even greater. Look for big numbers from Amendola this season as he will become one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets.
Sure the Patriots have had some significant losses, but as long as Brady and Belichick are together the Pats have a chance. The Pats play a moderately difficult schedule including: at Atlanta, at Cincinnati, home vs New Orleans, home vs Denver, at Houston and at Baltimore. All of these games could be tough but I see them winning at least four of the aforementioned games. Look for the Pats to make another run at the Super Bowl this year.