2009 New England Patriots Season Preview
by Wilson of Predictem.com
2008 Record: 11-5, ATS 4-4
Stadium: Gillette Stadium
Head Coach: Bill Belichick (entering 10th season as head coach)
Superbowl Odds: 33 to 10
Training Camp Site: Gillette Stadium
Training Camp Dates: July 30 August 5 (more dates to come)
Tom Brady will be watched very carefully this preseason as he looks to return from the knee injury. Will Brady be able to comeback just as strong as he was in the past? Some think he should stay off the field until the regular season, but the argument is can Brady prepare for the real games by not playing in the preseason? With his experience and savvy, Brady might be best served to stay out of harms way and wait for early September to arrive. He has already mentioned that he doesnt like wearing the brace on his knee but he must comply with the Patriots team doctors and sport the brace. Perhaps the more important piece to the season just may be Bradys mental approach as his physical issues appear to be back to normal.
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Whos New? RB Fred Taylor (Jacksonville Jaguars), SS Patrick Chung (Oregon Ducks).
Whos Gone? QB Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs)
Offense: Only time will tell how well the Patriots offense will be now that Belichick is both, head coach and offensive coordinator. However, if Tom Brady proves his comeback and stays healthy he will take a ton of pressure off of Belichick by helping run the offense.
Kevin OConnell, a second year player out of San Diego State will serve as Bradys backup, which is the same role he had for Cassell last season. It will be interesting to find out how the offensive line matches up this season. Last year Cassell was sacked 47 times. If New England expects to keep Brady on the field they probably need to take a good hard look at their O-line.
The running game in New England is definitely not a given, especially with O-line issues. With the addition of Fred Taylor and a steady Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis all looking to get some time and touches this season it will be a buffet of backs for other teams to prepare for. Morris and Taylor will likely be the top two candidates in the backfield.
Open the airways as usual in New England! Brady will throw a ton and to some great receivers. Randy Moss and Wes Welker will be the first and second options. Joey Galloway will also be available but at age 37 he might be slowing down a bit. The TE position will remain the same as in the past- not a priority. The Patriots TEs only had 36 catches in 2007 and not much better in 08. Benjamin Watson and Alex Smith will compete for the No. 1 TE spot.
Defense: With the return of Brady the defense might be off the field a bit more but they have other issues as well. New Englands once elite defense is hit with injuries and aging. Pro Bowl safety Rodney Harrison is gone to retirement, and will be replaced by Patrick Chung from the University of Oregon. Chung will be asked to fill some pretty big cleats but he has the talent to pull it off. Regardless of new blood, the Patriots D will be down this season.
Special Teams: Place kicker, Stephen Gostkowski was one of the best in the league last year hitting 36 of 40 attempts. He will be solid again especially with Brady back and most likely get more scoring opportunities.
2009 New England Patriots Schedule:
September - 14 Buffalo Bills
September - 20 at New York Jets
September 27 Atlanta Falcons
October 4Baltimore Ravens
October 11 at Denver Broncos
October 18 Tennessee Titans
October 25 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
November 1 BYE
November 8 Miami Dolphins
November 15 at Indianapolis Colts
November 22 New York Jets
November 30 at New Orleans Saints
December 6 at Miami Dolphins
December 13 Carolina Panthers
December 20 at Buffalo Bills
January 3 Houston Texans
Betting Odds and Projections:
The Tom Brady shows looks to make a comeback in 2009. I like the fact that Belichick is also the OC, but he will get help from Brady as well. With the Pats sitting at 33 to 10 to win the Super Bowl it will be hard to say that they are a top contender.
Coming back from major reconstructive knee surgery is never a shining moment in an athletes career but if Brady can prove his rehab and stay healthy the Patriots just might make some noise this year. Luck to ya.
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