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ThePudge
07-23-2008, 11:23 PM
AFC East

1. New England Patriots

1.1 Draft Outlook

1. (10) Jerod Mayo - ILB - Tennessee
2. (62) Terrence Wheatley - CB - Colorado
3. (78) Shawn Crable - OLB - Michigan
3. (94) Kevin O’Connell - QB - San Diego State
4. (129) Jonathan Wilhite - CB - Auburn
5. (153) Matt Slater - KR/WR - UCLA
6. (197) Bo Ruud - LB - Nebraska

Analysis: New England did a nice job of injecting a bit of youth to their “experienced” (aging) Linebacking core. First round Jerod Mayo seems to have been a real find and has been a pleasant surprise thus far. Mayo is big, athletic, and very instinctive. Though it may take some time to grasp New England’s complicated scheme completely, Mayo seems to be on the right track and may be looking at either a starting job or extended playing time right away. The other LB selected by the Pats, third round pick Shawn Crable, is a pass rushing specialist who may see some time on Special Teams coverage units as well as perhaps on passing downs on defense. Another concern of the Patriots’ going into the draft was cornerback depth after losing Asante Samuel (Eagles) and Randall *** (Saints) in Free Agency. They added experience at the position through free agency and youth in the form of two picks in the draft. The first of which, Terrence Wheatley, fits the bill as an undersized, athletic corner in the mold of current starter Ellis Hobbs. Fourth round pick, Jonathan Wilhite, is also a bit undersized, but is a bit more physical and may have a chance to succeed in New England’s zone scheme. Third round pick Kevin O’Connell was a bit of a head scratcher. O’Connell has all sorts of upside as a big, athletic Quarterback, but will likely stick as the third string this season. With a mind like Belichick’s though, nothing can be ruled out of the question for a player of his size (6’5 225) and athleticism (4.6 40). Fifth round pick Matt Slater should see plenty of action right away on Special Teams, but he’s unlikely to ever offer much more than that. Their last pick, Bo Ruud, is likely to be simply a practice squad body for now, seeing as he’s not near the player his brother was coming out of school. Overall, the Patriots helped themselves with some talent and depth added at Linebacker and Cornerback and got themselves an immediate special teams contributor in Slater. GRADE: B-

1.2 Free Agency Overview

Additions
+ CB Jason Webster
+ WR Sam Aiken
+ TE Marcus Pollard
+ OT Anthony Clement
+ OT Oliver Ross
+ NT Steve Fifita
+ LB Victor Hobson
+ CB Fernando Bryant
+ CB Lewis Sanders
+ S Tank Williams

Subtractions
- WR Troy Brown
- WR Donte Stallworth (Browns)
- TE Kyle Brady
- LB Junior Seau
- CB Willie Andrews
- CB Randall *** (Saints)
- CB Asante Samuel (Eagles)
- CB Chad Scott
- DB Eugene Wilson (Buccaneers)

- New England took their lumps in the secondary with the losses of Asante Samuel, Randall ***, and Eugene Wilson. Age got the best of Junior Seau, who looks like he may not be returning. LB Victor Hobson will get the chance to contribute right away, as will CB’s Fernando Bryant and Jason Webster. The loss of Donte Stallworth also stings a bit, but the Pats will return their WR core players in Moss, Welker, Gaffney, and third year player Chad Jackson so damage is not likely to be felt. The most important aspect of free agency this year for the Pats was the re-signing of star WR Randy Moss to a three year deal. Overall, the Patriots seem to have become ‘slightly’ weaker, with the losses in the secondary, though nothing drastic occurred. Still, they have to be considered the odds on favorite to win the Super Bowl.

1.3 Fantasy Football

QB - Tom Brady. - Should be the #1 QB drafted in just about every league. Though it’s unlikely for Brady to put up the numbers he did a year ago, he still is just about a sure bet to throw for over 3,800 yards and 32+ Td’s, of course with a low interception total as well. A mid to late first round pick in most leagues.

RB - Laurence Maroney. - Because he’s a bit injury prone, New England has become a bit pass-happy, and the Pats take full advantage of third down back, Kevin Faulk, Maroney is somewhat of a risky pick early. A very talented player who could be one of the league’s top rushers if he were in a run-based scheme. Is good for over 1,100 yards though and roughly 8-9 Td’s. Should be a nice find in the late-second to early third round range.

WR - Randy Moss. - Easily the #1 WR in Fantasy Football. Like Brady, it’s unlikely he duplicates his 2007 success, still, it’s likely that Moss catches 10-15 Td’s and over 1,300-1,400 yards this season. Still the best wide receiver in the game. A late first round value.

Wes Welker. - Welker turned into the game’s top possession receiver a year ago. His Td total may not wow anyone this upcoming season but his reception and yards numbers should be up there once again making him a fine starter. A likely mid round pick.

Jabar Gaffney/Chad Jackson - Whoever wins the #3 job in New England may be a nice fantasy sleeper in bigger leagues. Not likely to be fantasy starters, storing one of these players on the bench and waiting for a bye week may not be such a bad idea. Late Round/Free Agent.

TE - Ben Watson. - A man who always has had all kinds of potential, yet never seems to tear it up in the fantasy world. Worthy of a starting TE spot in bigger leagues as he remains a solid redzone threat in New England and can stretch the field with his excellent athleticism. A solid pick from round nine or so on.

K - Stephen Gostkowski. - Will be a popular pick early because of how frequently the Pats can score. An overwhelming majority of his points though will come from extra points. A safe pick, as he will always have XP’s to kick, though he’s not likely to be needed at any point for more than two field goals in a game because of New England’s offense. Likely a top five kicker in most leagues that could be as high as an eighth or ninth round pick.

DEF. - New England’s D has lost some of it’s playmaking potential with the loss of Asante Samuel. Still the unit is very solid and unlikely to give up many points. Interception numbers will go down, but sack totals should rise with the health of Richard Seymour and the team, as I said, isn’t likely to give up too many points. A solid starting defense. A mid-late round pick that should be selected among the top six or seven defenses.

1.4 Looking at the Schedule

9/7 vs. Kansas City 1:00
9/14 @ New York Jets 4:15
9/21 vs. Miami 1:00
-------Week Four Bye-------
10/5 @ San Francisco 4:15
10/12 @ San Diego 8:15
10/20 vs. Denver 8:30
10/26 vs. St. Louis 1:00
11/2 @ Indianapolis 8:15
11/9 vs. Buffalo 1:00
11/13 vs. New York Jets 8:15
11/23 @ Miami 1:00
11/30 vs. Pittsburgh 4:15
12/7 @ Seattle 8:15
12/14 @ Oakland 4:15
12/21 vs. Arizona 1:00
12/28 @ Buffalo 1:00

*Monday Night Appearances (1) Week Seven 10/20 vs. Denver
- Only one Monday Night game for the defending Supe…err… AFC Champions. This happens to be one of five prime time appearances for the Pats in 2008. Their opponents, the Denver Broncos should challenge this year for a wild card spot, however they simply don’t match up well with the Patriots in Foxboro on a likely chilly October night. Denver is in somewhat of a transitional phase (not quite rebuilding) and could easily be pounded under the lights here. It should be fun though to see how Denver’s young offense, especially their passing game which includes QB Jay Cutler, WR Brandon Marshall and TE Tony Scheffler , does against a New Engalnd secondary that was hit hard in free agency.

*Sunday Night Appearances (3) Week Six 10/12 @ San Diego, Week Nine 11/2 @ Indianapolis, Week Fourteen 12/7 @ Seattle
- A very interesting Sunday Night lineup for the Pats. All road contests against 2007 division winners. San Diego and Indianapolis happen to be New England’s greatest competition in the AFC, so each holds great importance as far as playoff seeding goes. Also to be noted, both teams were beaten by the Pats a year ago so both will have large chips on their shoulders. It’ll also be fun to see the Pats head to Seattle in December to one of the loudest stadiums in football to take on one of the NFC’s best team’s.

* Thursday Night Appearances (1) Week Eleven 11/13 vs. New York Jets
- This game should make for some very nice Thursday night television as bitter rivals do battle in chilly Gillette Stadium on a mid-November night. Though the improved Jets are still out-manned by the seemingly unbeatable Patriots, never count out some magic in a primetime divisional game that is likely to have extra meaning involved due to the ‘Spygate’ incident and the Jets possible push at a Wild Card spot.

Toughest Divisional Game - Week Two 9/14 @ New York Jets 4:15
- The Jets/Patriots rivalry was hot before the infamous event that occurred in New York in 2007, the event that of course became known as “Spygate.” You can expect no less than a deafening chorus of boo’s from the New York fans that day in an environment that will be best described as “hostile” in every sense of the word. The players and coaches are likely to hold a special grudge as well in the Patriots return to New York. As for the game itself, the Jets have improved, that’s no secret. The rejuvenated lineup in New York which includes two new starters along the offensive line (including perennial pro-bowler Alan Faneca) and an improved linebacking core, which includes pass rushing specialists Calvin Pace and rookie Vernon Gholston, will make this much more of a contest this year. A game that should be marked on both teams’ calendar.

Toughest Non-Divisional Game - Week Six 10/12 @ San Diego 8:15
- A rematch of the 2007-08 AFC Championship, with, of course, a change of scenery in San Diego. The Chargers look tough this year and may be the top challengers, once again, for the AFC crown. San Diego has perhaps the top front seven in all of football and they remain one of the only teams that can pressure and rattle Tom Brady. The Chargers can also beat New England with their balnced attack on offense which features the league’s best running back in Tomlinson and a passing unit that is quickly becoming one of the more formidable in the league with young QB Phillip Rivers, TE Antonio Gates, and WR’s Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson who seemed to improve later in the season. A true test for the Pats as another team looks for revenge. Should make for a hell of a Sunday Night matchup.

1.5

2008 New England Patriots Record: 13-3

Bigburt63
07-24-2008, 08:24 AM
great write up, but we did not lose larry izzo.

I think Crable will be mixed in to the defense at first as a pass rush specialist, but then later as a rotational type guy. I am very excited about the defense this year, I think the additions of Mayo, Hobson will allow Thomas to move back outside where he is more effective teaming up with Vrable