2013 New England Patriots NFL Preview
Odds Courtesy of 5dimes
The Patriots are considered by most the favorite to win the AFC, and that’s largely based on precedence. Oddsmakers at 5dimes consider the Broncos to be slight favorites, but at the bare minimum most are holding the Patriots as likely to win the AFC East and find their way into the postseason once again. This is a team built around postseason success, so Peyton Manning and the Broncos can gear their season around an eventual collision with Mr. Brady and the men in red, white and blue – again – most likely.
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have established a dynasty, and they have yet to step off of their thrones, which means this Patriots team still has a stranglehold on most of the conference. They won 12 games last season and the team still boasts a young defense and potent offense; or more to the point, they are the same ol’ Patriots.
Tom Brady turns 36 during training camp, so the question must of course arise of whether or not the great now begins a steady decline. But Brady is still hungry for at least one more title, and that usually is enough to drive the greats on to about age 40. Brady didn’t fall off in 2012, for those wondering.
The HOF lock only suffered an incremental dip in his completion percentage, and his TD to INT ratio still hovered at about 4:1. His contract extension locks him up through 2017, so the age-40 retirement hinted at already seems to be the reasonable hope of the brass in New England, as well.
Stevan Ridley had an impressive year rushing the ball for the Patriots last season, it should be noted, too. Ridley managed nearly 1300 yards and had a dozen TDs. He had 82 carries for first down, which ranked third in the NFL, and he enters camp as the indisputable No. 1 option at RB. Brandon Bolden should help a lot, though, as he challenged Ridley for carries last season.
Between the near guaranteed performance of a tough back like Ridley and a strong backup like Bolden, the Patriots have to feel confident about their offense. Brady has Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Donald Jones and Andre Holmes to haul in the receptions, a cast which is far better than most would probably realize. The offensive line is also dry good, bolstered by the re-signing of RT Sebastian Vollmer, who is great when healthy.
The Patriots defense is not necessarily as superb as it has been in the past, but the only real possible weak spot is the secondary. It was a lot better in the second half of last season, and a lot of that was due to moving Devin McCourty from CB to S and then picking up Aqib Talib. Both keep the secondary quick, fast responding, and prevent many big plays. The youth of the defense remains its brightest point, as the Patriots can reasonably expect to build on this current unit even exiting the Brady-era (four years from now?).
The Patriots, as stated, remain the team to beat in the AFC East, and probably the AFC. The virtual coin flip between the Broncos and Patriots for the Conference may be just that, but several are considering the Texans as a possible dark horse to steal it from both teams. Precedence states that the Patriots make a smart bet for bettors, as a Brady-Belichick era is closing in on its end, an end which clamors for one more Vince Lombardi.
Be sure to check out Maddux’s picks for this NFL season, as we line our bettors pockets once again in big fashion.