Behind Enemy Lines: New England Patriots

May 24, 2012; Foxborough, MA USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks with head coach Bill Belichick on the practice field during organized team activities at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE


2011 Recap: The Patriots showed their typical dominance last season, posting a 13-3 record and finishing atop the AFC East yet again. Tom Brady added another great season to his resumé and 2011 saw the emergence of young tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. New England's defense couldn't match their offensive excellence though, as they were one of the worst in the league. The Pats followed up their strong regular season with another run to the Super Bowl, falling once again to the New York Giants.

Offseason Review: Josh McDaniels was added late last year to the staff and has officially taken over the offensive coordinator role now that Bill O'Brien has left. The Patriots typically like to acquire veterans in free agency and did so again this year. Fans in the AFC South are very familiar with Joseph Addai (and his injury woes). The team also brought in two more targets for Brady, signing Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd.

Draft Review: The Patriots have always stockpiled a lot of picks in the draft, but often I've been left thinking they underachieved once the draft ends. I've changed my tune this year. In the first round New England grabbed Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower and both should be immediate contributors. Jake Bequette is another monstrous defensive end to add to the rotation. In the seventh round they took Alfonzo Dennard, who plummeted on draft day. It'll be interesting to see how that works out for them.

Most Dangerous Player to the Titans: Tom Brady, no explanation needed.

Underrated Player: This title goes to Rob Ninkovich. Maybe this is the year he loses his starting spot, but he's been a good contributor for them and is always the forgotten man in the linebacking corps.

Overrated Player: Danny Woodhead is a really good player, but he benefits immensely from the way they use him and plays in an elite offense.

2012 Outlook: As long as Brady is there I'll be picking them to win the AFC East. Bill Belichick will keep his team motivated, and the defense will be aided by the draft acquisitions. Expect another strong year from the Pats.

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