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Know Your Enemy: New England Patriots

The Patriots are still the Patriots. Sith Lord Bill Belichick rules the NFL under his evil empire. He almost won another Super Bowl last year but the Patriots defense laid an egg against the Eagles and Nick Foles (thanks Patricia). Patriots should be favored to make the Super Bowl again this year despite some changes.

Strengths

Tommy Boi

Tom Brady had 102.8 rating in 2017 and won his 3rd MVP. He’s 40 and super annoying but gets the job done no matter his weapons.

Weapons

The Patriots made some changes but still have Gronk (1,084 yards and 8 TDs). They did ship out 1,000 yard WR Brandin Cooks but get back Julian Edelman from injury after a four game suspension (he misses the Lions game. Boombaya!)

Chris Hogan returns and Malcom Mitchell had an injury plagued year in 2017 but has potential. James White is a good receiving back and the Patriots WR additions were Jordan Matthews and Cordarelle Patterson (yes the former Viking). I’m sure they will revive their careers under Touchdown Tommy. Phillip Dorsett is a deep threat and Kenny Britt gets his last chance.

Josh McDaniels jilted the Colts for HC at the last second and remained the OC for the Patriots. They will have a good offense in 2018.

Run Game

Sony Michel was drafted in Round 1 and Jeremy Hill was added from the Bengals. Dion Lewis is gone but Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden and Mike Gillislee remain for now. The Patriots always have at least a solid run game. That should continue.

Defense

Matt Patricia leaves to lead the Lions to a Super Bowl but the Patriots defense will still be good under Belichick and pseudo-dc Brian Flores. Adrian Clayborn and Danny Shelton (NT) were added on the defensive line to pair with Malcom Brown and Trey Flowers. Don’ta Hightower returns from injury at ILB and former Lion Kyle Van Noy somehow revived his career at SAM with the Patriots. Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise and Vince Valentine are mid-round picks that shouldn’t be slept on either with Belichick.

Patriots lose Malcom Butler to free agency even though they didn’t want to start him in the Super Bowl anyway. They still have Stephon Gilmore and added Jason McCourty to pair with his brother. Eric Rowe remains after getting torched in the Super Bowl as the outside backup. Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Jordan Richards (2015 2nd round pick) are the safety trio. Duron Harmon was the third safety but left in free agency. Rookie 2nd round pick Duke Dawson and 2016 2nd round pick Cyrus Jones vie for the nickel job.

Weakness

Offensive Line

The Patriots lost left tackle Nate Solder in free agency. Isiash Wynn was drafted in Round 1 but projects to be a guard. Trent Brown was added from the 49ers in a trade and RT Marcus Cannon could switch to the left side. LG Joe Thuney is hurt but should return by the season. David Andrews is an average at best center. Shaq Mason is a solid right guard. LaAdrian Waddle and Matt Tobin is poor depth. The Patriots have questions on the line but have a good line coach to protect immobile Tommy Boi.

Schedule

The Patriots travel to Detroit in Week 3 for Sunday Night Football and to Chicago in Week 7. The Pats host Green Bay in Week 9 for SNF and Week 13 the Vikings go to Foxboro. Patriots will be a tough test for every North team.