Can Patriots Do It Again? Don't Bet Against It, But Be Patient

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 1:49 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019 1:49 PM UTC

It won’t be long before the scouting combines, NFL draft, training camp, and another season of NFL football. But can the New England Patriots reign supreme again?

It defies all odds and expectations that the New England Patriots are still doing it after all these years. We’ve run out of superlatives for Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the Kraft family, who have overseen this historic empire. Despite the recent sordid events surrounding team owner Robert Kraft, our goal is to analyze if New England has enough left in its gas tank to make yet another run at a Super Bowl title.

The NFL odds board is certainly validating their chances, as the Pats are between 6-1 and 8-1 to win their seventh Lombardi Trophy, but Tom Terrific is at a point where most men his age are tearing an Achilles playing a casual game of tennis. Although the pundits will point to a decline in Brady’s production last season, it should be noted that there is strong evidence he was playing throughout much of the year with a sprained MCL. Oh, and he won a Super Bowl.

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🐐🐐🐐. Enough said.

The Top 10 Tom Brady plays of 2018! pic.twitter.com/4LhnLLTOA8

— NFL (@NFL) February 18, 2019
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However, Brady will be 42 when the season kicks off and as pliable as he may be, with the assistance of training voodoo master Alex Guerrero by his side, it’s illogical to believe he will be among the most prolific passers next season. Nevertheless, he doesn’t have to be the East Coast version of Jared and the Juggernauts; he simply needs to be precise and as increasingly cautious as he has become in recent memory. Brady is much more prone to tossing balls away rather than try to fit them through tight windows on receivers who are running routes in double coverage.

Speaking of receivers, New England will have to bolster its pass-catching corps because Julian Edelman can’t do it alone. Chris Hogan is 31 and a complementary receiver at best, while Phillip Dorsett has speed but can’t seem to shed coverage or gain separation. Beyond that, the Pats have such pass-catching luminaries as Braxton Berrios and Cordarrelle Patterson with special-teamer Matthew Slater rounding out the stable.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski is another issue entirely. Will he stay or will he go? Even if he elects to return, will the Patriots be willing to spend north of $9 million to keep him or will he accept a pay cut? And lastly, what does Gronk have left in the tank? I don’t believe it is hyperbole to state that the receivers New England signs in free agency and pluck in the draft will loom large in their chances to make another Super Bowl run.

On the flip side, Sony Michel looks like the real deal while James White is the Swiss Army knife of NFL running backs. Let’s not forget that Jeremy Hill, a former starter for the Bengals, is still only 26 and could be re-signed for short money after tearing his ACL in the season opener. Rex Burkhead is a power back with a little more speed than steamroller James Devlin. Needless to say, the backfield is not chief among the Patriots’ concerns. In addition, the offensive line performed admirably and may be even better if they can woo massive blindside tackle Trent Brown back into the fold and get production worthy of a No. 23 overall pick from guard Isaiah Wynn, who was sidelined for the year with a torn Achilles in the second game of the preseason.

The defense needs improvement but so does every defense in this pass-happy, receiver-friendly league. Devin McCourty stated he will be back for another season, which is a huge boon to the New England secondary. However, the linebacking corps needs help and New England could desperately use an edge rusher, even if they convince Trey Flowers to spurn the many suitors who will court him in free agency.

Overall, the Patriots will be contenders, as they have been over the past two decades. But if you’re thinking nothin’ sweeta’ than a repeata in terms of betting the Pats in your NFL picks for next season, then just hold tight until you see how they stock up in the draft and what they do in free agency. TB12 will be another year older while Gronkowski will very likely be merely the best tight end in New England rather than the league as he was this past season. Hold firm, and let’s wait before we get that hunch to bet a bunch.

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