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Preseason Power Rankings No. 4: New England Patriots

Julian Edelman, Ryan Allen, Danny Aiken AP

The Patriots were back in the AFC Championship Game last year, but their bid for another Super Bowl title were dashed by the Broncos.

Making it there was a credit to coach Bill Belichick’s adaptability as he had to fill holes created by injuries while finding a way to keep the offense moving in spite of an underwhelming season by Tom Brady’s wide receivers. That stopped against Denver, but the Patriots made it clear they have designs on staying on top in the AFC East.

They signed cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in hopes of stopping the revolving door at that position, with the Revis acquisition and a growing group of talent in the front seven leading to thoughts of the best Patriots defense in several years.

There were no such additions to the offense, but the hope is that the return to health of tight end Rob Gronkowski serves the same purpose.

Strengths.

When Gronkowski was healthy last season, the Patriots had one of the most potent offenses in the league. When he was out, they weren’t close to the same level as a team and Brady wasn’t as effective as a quarterback. Whether Gronk can stay healthy for an entire year is a matter of some debate, but his impact on the team is certain.

The Patriots had a pretty good defense last season without Revis. Adding one of the best cornerbacks in the game as he looks to restore some luster after a forgettable year in Tampa has the potential to move the defense from pretty good to great in a shift that the Pats would love to see.

Revis won’t be doing it alone, though. Linebacker Jerod Mayo was lost after the sixth week of the season because of a torn pectoral muscle and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork’s torn Achilles made him a bystander as well. Getting both back to go with Jamie Collins, Donta’ Hightower, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich would make for one of the best front sevens in the conference.

The permanent move to safety was a good one for Devin McCourty, who turned in an excellent year in 2013. With better cornerback play expected, McCourty could be deployed in a more aggressive manner this time around.

Weaknesses.

Julian Edelman caught a lot of passes, but the rest of the wide receivers left something to be desired last season. The Patriots need Danny Amendola to remain on the field and they’d like to see the potential of Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins or Josh Boyce translated into actual production. Without those developments, the Patriots will be relying heavily on Gronkowski remaining healthy once again this year.

Brady was sacked 40 times last year, the second-most of his career, and that number will need to come down this season. Center and right guard are the spots most in need of improvement as Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly were weak links last year.

LeGarrette Blount wasn’t re-signed as a free agent, leaving the Patriots without their battering ram in the backfield from last year. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are on hand, so there’s no reason to panic although the team’s versatility took a little bit of a hit with Blount’s departure.

If everyone is healthy, the defensive line should be pretty good. Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Will Smith and first-round pick Dominique Easley are all returning from serious injuries, though, and the depth isn’t strong enough to keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks if they aren’t in the game.

Changes.

We’ll get to the changes that have been made in a second, right after we discuss the changes that the Patriots hope will take place. After losing Gronkowski, Mayo, Wilfork, Kelly and Sebastian Vollmer to season-ending injuries last year, the Patriots will be hoping that simply being healthier will allow them to push their way back to the top of the conference.

The Pats added three offensive linemen in the draft — center Bryan Stork, tackle Cameron Fleming and guard Jon Halapio — to restock with some young depth up front.

Browner will serve a suspension to start the year, so it will be some time before he and Revis can be deployed as a tandem. Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard will be on hand to fill in and then fill out the sub packages.

Brandon LaFell was signed as a free agent after playing out his contract with the Panthers. There’s probably more upside with the younger receivers, but the Pats will take any help they can get at the position after last season.

Camp Battles.

Steve Gregory is gone, leaving an opening at safety next to McCourty. Patrick Chung is back after a spell with the Eagles and he’ll join Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Kanorris Davis and rookie Jemea Thomas at the position. Harmon looks like the first choice heading into camp.

The Patriots drafted running back James White in the fourth round and he’ll likely vie with Brandon Bolden for backfield snaps left up for graps after Blount’s departure. Given the fluid nature of running back situations, he could wind up with even more than that if things break right.

New England selected quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round, setting up a competition with Ryan Mallett for backup duties and the role as unofficial heir to Brady.

Prospects.

The Patriots have advanced at least as far as the conference title game in each of the last three seasons. When you survey the AFC at this point, another trip to that round feels like the expectation once again in New England.

We can’t know which Patriots might be injured this season or which teams might come together to form a whole better than anyone is predicting in July, but, outside of Denver, there aren’t any teams in the conference that are safe bets to be better than the Patriots. And there certainly aren’t any in the AFC East, where the question again appears to be how many weeks it will take for the Pats to sew up the crown.

Getting beyond the conference title game and earning another Lombardi Trophy is a different matter, however. They’ll need better health than last season, development from a young receiver or two and no noticeable slippage from key veterans to add a fourth ring for the Belichick era.

There’s a lot that needs to break right, but the Patriots are in position to capitalize if things do go that way.

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84 Responses to “Preseason Power Rankings No. 4: New England Patriots”
  1. razzlejag says: Jul 21, 2014 9:03 AM

    Go Patriots. The road to the division title is again paved by the Dolphins, Jets and Bills ineptitude.

  2. ctiggs says: Jul 21, 2014 9:03 AM

    Just skip the next two clown teams (Pedhawks, and Donkeys) and get to the best one. #GONiners #Nobodycanpossiblyhaveitbetter #KapwillgetusSIX

  3. ctiggs says: Jul 21, 2014 9:06 AM

    I Sprained my Amendola and my Gronk hurts

  4. gridironrat says: Jul 21, 2014 9:10 AM

    Spot on, Josh. And if the Broncos take even a small step back (which I expect), the Patriots will be there to capitalize.

    Patriots over Seahawks in the Super Bowl. You heard it here first.

  5. docziegler says: Jul 21, 2014 9:14 AM

    Yeah, but Sexy Rexy ain’t scairt.

  6. buffaloisadumpsterandtheirfansaremorons says: Jul 21, 2014 9:15 AM

    Patriots = ZERO legitimate Super Bowls. ***

  7. buffaloisadumpsterandtheirfansaremorons says: Jul 21, 2014 9:15 AM

    Bill Belicheat will be judged on his failure in Cleveland and not lucking into Brady.

  8. brandonj21 says: Jul 21, 2014 9:16 AM

    What the hell is going on in the picture above ???

  9. theanalyticalkid says: Jul 21, 2014 9:18 AM

    ” but the Patriots made it clear they have designs on staying on top in the AFC East.”

    LOL

    Yeah, what a challenge that is. I’m guessing that over half the league wouldn’t have much trouble staying atop the AFC LEAST. Besides the Patriots it’s been a putrid division for years.

    Since Brady’s been there the Fins have made the playoffs twice (’01 & ’08, Cassel’s season), and they split with the Pats in both those seasons, and have had a winning record only once since ’05.

    The Jets have made the playoffs 6 times and given the Pats their biggest challenge since ’01, but with Sanchez, Pennington, Bollinger, and a washed up Favre as their QBs, that was futile. They split with the Pats in 5 of their 6 playoff seasons too.

    The Bills, LOL, I think that everyone’s familiar with the Bills playoff futility since ’01, and they’ve had only one winning season (’04), and have beaten that Patriots only twice in 26 games since ’01.

    Does it get any easier? No, it doesn’t. Belicheat can thank the football gods that he’s in that division along with the fact that Bledsoe got hurt in ’01 so that Belicheat’s hand would be forced in playing Brady. Otherwise he may have been released by the Pats too.

  10. blackstrat says: Jul 21, 2014 9:23 AM

    brandonj21 says:
    Jul 21, 2014 9:16 AM

    What the hell is going on in the picture above ???

    Da da da da da ta…You put your left foot in, you put your right foot out…..and you shake it all about…

    The Hokey Pokey of course.

  11. doctormantistoboggan says: Jul 21, 2014 9:25 AM

    If Lord Manning had BB, he’d have 11 super bowls.

  12. flash1287 says: Jul 21, 2014 9:26 AM

    Does it get any easier? No, it doesn’t. Belicheat can thank the football gods that he’s in that division along with the fact that Bledsoe got hurt in ’01 so that Belicheat’s hand would be forced in playing Brady. Otherwise he may have been released by the Pats too.

    Don’t you love this excuse from the crybabies.

    You know what other team had a long run of success and played in a bad division? Montana and the 49ers. But you never here how bad Bill Walsh was (8-24) before Montana.

    Plus she actually used “football gods”.

    Can you say “jealousy”

  13. 6ball says: Jul 21, 2014 9:29 AM

    .
    Preseason rankings are nothing more than conversation pieces. However if one were to assume that Denver and New England are somewhat equal teams, the Broncos have a more difficult schedule by way of drawing the NFC West in inter-conference play.
    .

  14. logicalvoicesays says: Jul 21, 2014 9:29 AM

    Heres how many Superbowls the Patriots have wom since Spygate :

  15. tommikula says: Jul 21, 2014 9:32 AM

    buffaloisadumpsterandtheirfansaremorons says:
    Jul 21, 2014 9:15 AM
    Bill Belicheat will be judged on his failure in Cleveland and not lucking into Brady

    You know he won a playoff game there in ’94. That is a miracle on in its own.

  16. theanalyticalkid says: Jul 21, 2014 9:34 AM

    “They’ll need better health than last season, development from a young receiver or two and no noticeable slippage from key veterans to add a fourth ring for the Belichick era.”

    He forgot to add “their first legitimate Super Bowl win.”

  17. kissbillsrings says: Jul 21, 2014 9:37 AM

    TEARS of envy from so many bitter fans of losing teams….
    Pats can’t help who’s in their division only capitalize from it which they seem to do…they also draft close to last evey year & still play the #1 seeds from every other division & still win so the crying about the division is weak to say the least…more like just an excuse to whine some…

  18. razzlejag says: Jul 21, 2014 9:37 AM

    There was no chance of Brady ever being released. He had surprisingly supplanted the #2 guy (I forget, Chris Redman maybe?) in ’01 going into the season and was already challenging Bledsoe for the job.

    Dismissing Belichick’s remarkable work as just being a function of having Tom Brady is shortsighted. He’s done an amazing job of plugging in players and keeping the Pats ready to win. His GM skills aren’t quite as amazing but his coaching, game management, etc are without peer.

  19. valentino8100 says: Jul 21, 2014 9:39 AM

    Amazing how many can’t figure out that the Patriots were the scapegoat for what every team was doing (as admitted to by Bill Cowher and others), in the same way N.O. did for bounty-gate. Get over it, they are just plain better than everyone else.

  20. patriottony says: Jul 21, 2014 9:39 AM

    the main reason those team end up the way they do is because of the PATRIOTS laying 6 losses on them. The jets are nothing but mouth, trash talk, and rexy is better at advertising his wife on the web than football.
    The dolphins just don’t seem to have “heart”
    The bills? well it’s the Bills,what can you say?

    Pats will go 11-5 0r 12-4 AGAIN…because,,of BB and TB,,,heart, dedication, and professionalism.

    People forget when Randy M was there week after week the Pats were accused of pummeling and running up the score,,,unsportsmanlike…

    They demolished every single team sometimes by 40/50 points,,,

  21. billrussellgreaterthanmjmagiclebron says: Jul 21, 2014 9:40 AM

    Pats should have their best defense since the last NE SB victory IF 2 of the DTs mentioned come back strong from ACL injuries. Any significant improvement in pass rushing will translate into more INTs from a greatly improved secondary. This will probably be the Patriots best, last chance at a Super Bowl championship with Brady at the helm.

  22. micknangold says: Jul 21, 2014 9:47 AM

    Seriously, every time you guys make a list it’s embarrassingly bad. Granted, preseason power rankings are pointless, and there’s nothing concrete to base them on other than the prior seasons performance, so either way the list would have no purpose. The Final 4 was so obvious you may as well have started with it.

  23. dickshotdogs says: Jul 21, 2014 9:50 AM

    My fellow Patriots fans, aren’t these comments awesome?! These trolls can’t help themselves and it just makes their heads explode whenever ANYTHING is written about our incredible and everlasting success! Enjoy your day, my fellow Patriots fans, theirs is going to be miserable! :))

  24. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 21, 2014 9:56 AM

    next to Panthers be ranked 10, this is the biggest joke…

    yes Pats guaranteed div win, playoffs, good record…and, in the AFC, they can even make the SB… but, that does not make them any good

    no way Pats are top team… no way they should be ranked above NO, GB or Arizona…. and, I would put them behind Rams, Redskins and Ravens

    has there ever been a less deserving org/team/hc than Pats being treated like this….? we have ALL been duped!

  25. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 21, 2014 9:59 AM

    Pats have, IMO, never won a thing!

    SBs should be stripped!

    We were all duped!

  26. theanalyticalkid says: Jul 21, 2014 9:59 AM

    “TEARS of envy from so many bitter fans of losing teams….
    Pats can’t help who’s in their division only capitalize from it which they seem to do…they also draft close to last evey year & still play the #1 seeds from every other division & still win so the crying about the division is weak to say the least…more like just an excuse to whine some…”

    To the contrary, just stating facts. There’s been no easier division in the NFL during the Brady era Pats. That is a fact.

    Otherwise, the Pats can prove how great they are by winning a Super Bowl without cheating. Someone said that all teams did it, OK, let’s assume that’s true, but now all teams are not doing it and the Pats, who did it better than everyone else with Ernie Adams, can’t win a SB in 9 seasons while being the favorite to do so in most if not all of those seasons, and with Brady playing much better than he did from ’01 thru ’04.

    Keep jabbering Pats apologists, but the fact is that that Pats can’t win one without cheating, whether others cheated or not being irrelevant. Just because some kid in the class got the highest grade by cheating better than everyone else doesn’t mean that he was the best student in the class now, does it.

    That’s a fact. Of course Belicheat and the team can prove us all wrong by actually winning one without cheating.

  27. unlimitedcriticism says: Jul 21, 2014 10:02 AM

    The AFC East was 4 games over .500 outside of division play last year. So everyone whining about the Pats playing in an easy division needs to reconcile that tidbit.

  28. jetsmmt says: Jul 21, 2014 10:03 AM

    Geno’s gonna slice and dice that pathetic excuse for a secondary and CJ’s gonna run circles around that fat and slow front seven. Jets will sweep these bums.

  29. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 21, 2014 10:06 AM

    SF
    NO
    Seattle
    Denver
    GBay
    Arizona
    StLouis
    Redskins
    Ravens
    Pats, Cincy, Indy or…..

    much better top 10

  30. renbutler says: Jul 21, 2014 10:07 AM

    So, how many people will wrongly pick the Pats to win a title for the tenth straight season?

  31. infectorman says: Jul 21, 2014 10:12 AM

    =Fact is, our secondary and pass Rush have been the weakest links of the entire team for MANY YEARS now.

    A barren cupboard in the receiver area has been sprinkled in all too frequently as well.

    This year, on paper at least, we have a fighting chance to compete with the big boys.
    1 man does not a team make Bill. Give Brady some weapons and let him do his thing.

    BTW, the Colts had one of the weakest Divisions for that majority of the Peyton years also, and he only made it to a single SB.
    So again, Brady > Manning.

    keep crying, tools

  32. micknangold says: Jul 21, 2014 10:14 AM

    More on-topic

    1. The Pats defense is very weak up the middle. Even before Wilfork got hurt, I recall Vlad MF Ducasse literally burying him into the endzone on a TD run in week 2. Vlad Ducasse! With or without him they will struggle to stop the run.

    2. The pass defense has improved on paper, but you can’t pencil them into being the AFC’s legion of boom just yet. Browner will 4 games and their safeties are average. BB’s defensive backfields always play a bit above their heads, so I’m sure they’ll be good, but that’s not enough when you’re giving up 130+ rushing ypg.

    3. That said, they’ll hold teams to enough FGs and generate enough turnovers to be an effective defense.

    4. Without Gronk that offense just doesn’t scare anybody. Brady has never needed elite skill players to be productive, but at his age he needs them to take some pressure off. Julian Edelman is a marginal talent who wouldn’t amount to much on plenty of rosters besides admittedly excellent special teams play. Against the better pass defenses, they’ll struggle like they did last year.

    5. They can rely on their running game, and of course Brady will make something out of nothing in the event Amendola and Gronk can’t stay on the field, so their offense will be balanced enough to still be a top 10-12 overall offense. It’s just going to be tough for them to move the ball on teams like the Broncos, Chiefs, Packers, and Bengals – and they play all of them in ’14.

  33. infectorman says: Jul 21, 2014 10:14 AM

    only “won” a single SB.
    Made it to 2.

  34. u4iadman says: Jul 21, 2014 10:15 AM

    Their coach is well past his prime.
    Nothing to see here.

  35. micknangold says: Jul 21, 2014 10:18 AM

    What the hell is going on in the picture above ???

    Form running.

  36. flash1287 says: Jul 21, 2014 10:31 AM

    To the contrary, just stating facts. There’s been no easier division in the NFL during the Brady era Pats. That is a fact.

    No that’s WRONG!

    The easiest division in the AFC since Brady has been the QB has been the AFC South. Based on win lose record and playoff teams not named the Colts or Patriots.

    So manning actually had the easiest road to the playoffs but no one ever mentions that.

  37. poorcalvinisstuckonthecrappylions says: Jul 21, 2014 10:31 AM

    I agree with this ranking.

    Ravens don’t belong in the top 15.

    Bandwagon fans.

  38. xxsweepthelegxx says: Jul 21, 2014 10:31 AM

    @theanalyticalkid

    The AFC East was the second best division (behind NFC West) last year based on win/loss records.

    The Pats being great, also makes it harder for Bills, Jets and Dolphins to make playoffs. If they all go 0-2 vs Pats, they need to go 10-4 at least to make playoffs at 10-6, no small task.

    Remember, not long ago the vaunted NFC West was a complete joke division with SEA winning it at 7-9. Football is cyclical brotha. The consistency the Pats have won at, in the salary cap era, is impressive.

  39. gayforbrady says: Jul 21, 2014 10:36 AM

    I love the tears from crybaby haters I dip my crackers in a nice bowl of sweet salty tears.

    Our coach cheated better than yours.
    Our QB is better looking than yours.
    Our team had more white people than yours (must be racist)
    Our QB actually married someone above him and not some gold digger (insert any manning)

  40. southpaw2k says: Jul 21, 2014 10:40 AM

    unlimitedcriticism says:

    “The AFC East was 4 games over .500 outside of division play last year. So everyone whining about the Pats playing in an easy division needs to reconcile that tidbit.”

    Let me see if I got this straight….

    You’re saying the AFC East is not an easy division based upon how all four teams perform in non-divisional play?

    Does this line of thinking strike anyone else as completely bug nuts crazy bass ackwards?

  41. metitometin says: Jul 21, 2014 10:42 AM

    Again, every team was ‘cheating’ and videotaping because it was legal. Goodell sent that memo about videotaping to every team in the NFL, not just the Patriots, because every team was videotaping. People continuing to bring up the bogus Spygate need to get a life because they’re obviously jealous of the Patriot’s continuing success as the NFL’s reigning dynasty.

  42. flash1287 says: Jul 21, 2014 10:43 AM

    theanalyticalkid = extremely jealous.

    If you didn’t care you would comment.

    Talk about a team being in someone’s head.

    Can we get 4 more paragraphs on how bad the Pattiots are?

  43. patriotsarespygaters says: Jul 21, 2014 10:45 AM

    haha the envy and hate for the patriots must be flattering for them…other team fans seemed to get really engrossed in bitterness….its gisele bundchens fault they haven’t won a superbowl btw

  44. bsaundaz says: Jul 21, 2014 10:49 AM

    Well this is interesting, I do think the pats are the second best team in the AFC; behind Denver. I think these rankings are ridiculous. I think the 49ers have alot of problems going on right now, everyone wants more money and the qb got overpaid, plus no secondary. I think they should be behind the patriots in rankings. the seahawks are no longer the number one team based on their offseason; lost 2 key players of their defense in thurmond and bryant. plus i think maxwell is NOT a good cb, hes gonna be burned all year. plus the jets appear to have been doing alot of things right this offseason, they already had a top 5 defense and they added decker, johnson, and a pass catching te in amaro.

  45. patsmiley says: Jul 21, 2014 10:52 AM

    Don’t write off the Fins just yet. They beat the Pats last year with that horrible O-line, and should’ve finished 2 games above .500 to make the playoffs. The Patriots are overrated.

  46. harrisonhits2 says: Jul 21, 2014 10:58 AM

    The photo above is obviously during warmup exercises.

    And as much as you people cry about the Pats “cheating” to win SBs, sideline taping was not illegal before 2007, so the only game you can actually claim the Pats “cheated” in was the one against the Jets that opened the 2007 season.

  47. xxsweepthelegxx says: Jul 21, 2014 11:00 AM

    “TEARS of envy from so many bitter fans of losing teams….
    Pats can’t help who’s in their division only capitalize from it which they seem to do…they also draft close to last evey year & still play the #1 seeds from every other division & still win so the crying about the division is weak to say the least…more like just an excuse to whine some…”

    To the contrary, just stating facts. There’s been no easier division in the NFL during the Brady era Pats. That is a fact.

    Otherwise, the Pats can prove how great they are by winning a Super Bowl without cheating. Someone said that all teams did it, OK, let’s assume that’s true, but now all teams are not doing it and the Pats, who did it better than everyone else with Ernie Adams, can’t win a SB in 9 seasons while being the favorite to do so in most if not all of those seasons, and with Brady playing much better than he did from ’01 thru ’04.

    Keep jabbering Pats apologists, but the fact is that that Pats can’t win one without cheating, whether others cheated or not being irrelevant. Just because some kid in the class got the highest grade by cheating better than everyone else doesn’t mean that he was the best student in the class now, does it.

    That’s a fact. Of course Belicheat and the team can prove us all wrong by actually winning one without cheating
    ________________________

    So if the Pats can’t win without cheating (your logic), what happened in 2002, 2005 and 2006?

    Did they take a couple years off from cheating? How come they didn’t win 6 in a row?

    And flip your thoughts, if they were still cheating in 2007 and 2011 would that have meant Tyree drops that ball? Samuel makes the interception? Manningham doesn’t make that catch?

    Instead posting nonsense just say ” I hate good teams…unless they’re my team”. That would make more sense

  48. unclerico14 says: Jul 21, 2014 11:04 AM

    Brady was underwhelming? His stats may have been down but he had a hell of a season. Anyone that actually watched the games knows it.

  49. natelan says: Jul 21, 2014 11:08 AM

    Weaknesses: No longer illegally video taping the other 31 teams.

    ***

  50. tedmurph says: Jul 21, 2014 11:08 AM

    The Pats defense is very weak up the middle.

    Wilfork: 5x Pro Bowl
    Mayo: 2x Pro Bowl
    McCourty: 2x All-Pro

    Without Gronk that offense just doesn’t scare anybody.

    I hear he’s gonna play.

    Julian Edelman is a marginal talent who wouldn’t amount to much on plenty of rosters.

    Edleman:1056 yrds
    Welker: 778 yrds, many big drops(again).

    The pass defense has improved on paper.

    The pass D was good last year when Talib was on the field, he just got hurt at bad times(like the last 2 AFC Championship gms). Revis has been durable over the yrs, besides the ACL, and is a better player.

    Try as hard as you can to poke holes, but this is a good team, the best since 2007. They need some things to go right, like everyone does, but they have a legit shot. It’s hard to repeat(Seattle), It’s hard to get back when you lose the big game (Denver) and SF, while talented, had a bad offseason. Much July optimism.

  51. ocgunslinger says: Jul 21, 2014 11:10 AM

    It is easy to understand the hatred towards the successful Patriots. Easier to say they cheated rather than to say they are a so much better managed and coached team and just simply beat our pathetic butts year after year.

  52. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 21, 2014 11:10 AM

    Pats would most likely finish 5th if put in to NFC West!

  53. kruehawk says: Jul 21, 2014 11:11 AM

    Pats going to be good this year. Same with the Rams and Green Bay. 49ers are going to begin a decline this year. Cards will decline.

  54. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 21, 2014 11:14 AM

    wait… just scrolled up..

    was someone actually arguing that the AFC East is not atrocious… and, the AFC South is worse is not a great argument either

    AFC in general sucks big time compared to NFC

    last year there was a non playoff NFC team better than the top AFC team for crying out loud.. and this year, even this bullcrap site, shows the worst 5 teams all being AFC

    only PC gone wild mandates AFC get equal slots to NFC in this poll.. but we are not going to be duped here

  55. cccpsimian says: Jul 21, 2014 11:27 AM

    Hands down the most overrated team in the countdown thus far. Simply by playing in the AFC Least, the Patriots are guaranteed passage to the postseason… once they get there, they’ll be bounced by their betters yet again.

  56. billrussellgreaterthanmjmagiclebron says: Jul 21, 2014 11:31 AM

    Micknangold has it a little bit backwards. While the Patriots run defense wasn’t overly stout at the outset of 2013, it didn’t go into a free fall until Kelly, Mayo, and Wilfork ALL went onto IR (around week 6). There is no reason why the run defense shouldn’t improve with their return to service. Go Pats!

  57. pastabelly101 says: Jul 21, 2014 11:33 AM

    P.incorrect has been duped. Duped by the best record in the NFL over the past 13 years, and no they don’t just play teams in their own division, I believe they take on all comers who look at that game as their personal Super Bowl. Duped by 8 AFC championship appearances. Duped by 5 Super Bowl appearances and three wins, and Duped by no end in sight. I cannot predict the future like most of you savants can but I do know the winning and subsequent whining will go on for years to come.

  58. bigjim50010 says: Jul 21, 2014 11:40 AM

    won their division 11 of the last 13 years….
    4 Superbowl Appearances in that time 2-2
    rotating roster…

    this is the model for all franchises
    but America hates success…

  59. bigjim50010 says: Jul 21, 2014 11:41 AM

    sorry 5 Superbowl appearances 3-2….can I blame my iphone?

  60. flash1287 says: Jul 21, 2014 11:43 AM

    cccpsimian says:
    Jul 21, 2014 11:27 AM
    Hands down the most overrated team in the countdown thus far. Simply by playing in the AFC Least, the Patriots are guaranteed passage to the postseason… once they get there, they’ll be bounced by their betters yet again.

    Hands down one of the dumbest comments yet.

    Can we stop with “overrated” it’s pretty lame.

    Tell us how a team that was # 3 in the NFL in scoring last season with new WR And missing the best TE In the NFL for 9 games is “overrated”

    Tell us how a team that just signed the best or second best DB in the NFL and will get back the middle of there D that they lost early last season is “overrated”

    Tell us how some jobber (you) hasit all figuerd out and everyone els is wrong.

  61. largent80100 says: Jul 21, 2014 11:43 AM

    12-4 as usual since the AFC Least remains a piece of cake (and as long as Geno and Manuel are still there, it will remain like that).

    The defense is finally scary after years of mediocrity that was compensated by the offense putting points like crazy.

    Lack of weapons (and the best one is an injury-prone) and Brady’s possible regression (2013 was his worst season in 10 years, even though ESPN pundits want to put him on the MVP race because of his GW drives and because he is Tom Brady).

    I’d give them a 30% chance of being the AFC team on the Super Bowl and 80% of being at least on the AFC Championship.

  62. largent80100 says: Jul 21, 2014 11:44 AM

    lol, I left one paragraph incomplete

    Lack of weapons (and the best one is an injury-prone) and Brady’s possible regression (2013 was his worst season in 10 years, even though ESPN pundits want to put him on the MVP race because of his GW drives and because he is Tom Brady) are the obstacles.

  63. tim8450 says: Jul 21, 2014 11:53 AM

    as far as run defense, the Pats give that to you as a gift so you can burn up the clock while the Pats are soaking in their lead in points. You may remember how in the regular season, Denver put up monster run yardage but could not win in the end. Likewise when the Ravens were absorbing the worst home beat down in their existence, the running yards were their to take. So, go ahead and take those yards and glory in Pats “lousy” run defense while you are running the ball from 14 points behind.

    Stats, are for losers.

  64. greenlantern75 says: Jul 21, 2014 11:58 AM

    Jets fan here…And as much as I hope it’s wrong, can’t fault the ranking…first, these rankings are kind of dumb…Who the heck cares if the Pats are 4, 5, or 10? They should easily make the playoffs and most likely as AFC East champs assuming health stays in check (always a BIG if)…That machine is too well oiled to not be a 3 or 4 seed in the AFC regardless of their competition. Then you just see where the chips lie in the Divisional round and go from there.

    Of course, it just takes 1 of those 40 sacks Brady had last year to pull something here or break something there and all bets are off…And I hope the Jets are there to capitalize on it…

  65. renbutler says: Jul 21, 2014 12:03 PM

    Winning percentage per division since 2002:

    AFC East: .525
    NFC East: .518
    NFC South: .515
    AFC South: .512
    AFC North: .509
    AFC West: .488
    NFC North: .480
    NFC West: .453

    So I think a lot of people here got these facts wrong in this thread, particularly about the AFC East and the AFC South.

  66. micknangold says: Jul 21, 2014 12:05 PM

    Micknangold has it a little bit backwards. While the Patriots run defense wasn’t overly stout at the outset of 2013, it didn’t go into a free fall until Kelly, Mayo, and Wilfork ALL went onto IR (around week 6). There is no reason why the run defense shouldn’t improve with their return to service. Go Pats!

    No, not at all. Here’s your weekly rushing totals against the Patriots defense leading up to game 6.

    Week 1 – 136 (Bills)
    Week 2 – 129 (Jets)
    Week 3 – 97 (Bucs)
    Week 4 – 58, (Falcons)
    Week 5 – 162 (Bengals)
    Week 6 – 131 (Saints)

    As you can see, they were bad all season.

  67. majormalphunktion says: Jul 21, 2014 12:07 PM

    Try as hard as you can to poke holes, but this is a good team, the best since 2007. They need some things to go right, like everyone does, but they have a legit shot. It’s hard to repeat(Seattle), It’s hard to get back when you lose the big game (Denver) and SF, while talented, had a bad offseason. Much July optimism.

    ——————————————————
    Best since 07, but in a very different way. Balanced attack, stout defense. The first 6 games the defense last year looked great. Add 2 CB’s, one with a golden ticket to the Hall of Fame and still in his prime…I can’t wait.

    Some people always bring up yards given up with the Pats. Here is a hint…Bill doesn’t care about yards. He never has. He knows that stat ends up skewed by the end of a game, when a team they are playing go into desperation mode. Look at points given, and 3rd downs. Pats were pretty good at 3rd downs until Vince and the rest of the middle of the D went on IR last year. Points given…still was pretty damn good through the year.

    Bring on Denver. Beat them once already with a decimated team. Pats have to play for Home field int he playoffs. Stay out of that hell hole in Denver. Sea level teams never play well there.

  68. micknangold says: Jul 21, 2014 12:21 PM

    By the way, the Patriots are still going to win the division. I’m not saying they aren’t still a very good team. I just pointed out their weaknesses in addition to acknowledging their strengths…I guess being accuarate is hating.

    Didn’t I mention how they’re typically a bend but don’t break defense? (Well, maybe that was implicit but I did say they get turnovers and hold teams to FGs, two traits of a bend don’t break defense.

  69. tedmurph says: Jul 21, 2014 12:29 PM

    I just pointed out that you were inaccurate about their perceived weaknessess and why. Didn’t call you a hater.

    Nothing wrong with bend /not break D. It’s not about giving up the least yrds. It’s about turnovers, getting off the field on 3rd down, red zone and not giving up pts.

  70. Norseman says: Jul 21, 2014 12:47 PM

    Has there ever been such a cake-walk to a division title for so long as has been the case with the Patriots in the AFC East?

    As much as the Patriots have a lock on a playoff spot every year, they just aren’t good enough anymore to win it all.

    Frustrating as it is for Patriots fans, this time will seem like a golden age in another couple years- post-B&B.

  71. FreewayJim says: Jul 21, 2014 12:48 PM

    If only you “Spygate” people and Patriot haters in general knew how much you brought down the overall IQ in this thread, wow.

  72. micknangold says: Jul 21, 2014 1:18 PM

    I’m not inaccurate. They are weak up the middle, and they were before the injuries. The stats and my own two eyes bear that out. The Patriots are not perfect. Are you implying they have no weaknesses?

  73. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 21, 2014 1:49 PM

    LOL at anyone.. even a Pats fan.. thinking Pats are a legit top team.. somewhere between 8-12 most likely, though record will be inflated due to division and conf

  74. thefiesty1 says: Jul 21, 2014 1:51 PM

    Til the injuries set in. Then the middle of the pack. Maybe 7-9 at best.

  75. tim8450 says: Jul 21, 2014 2:12 PM

    7-9?
    The Pats haven’t been below 9-7 since BB’s first year with the team, in 2000, probably before you were born.

  76. piratefreedom says: Jul 21, 2014 2:22 PM

    Every Pats thread is filled with the sweet nectar of patriot hating crybaby tears.

    It will be a sad thing when this long sustained period of excellence ends and the whiners quit them for whatever the next team is that stays good for an annoyingly long time.

  77. tedmurph says: Jul 21, 2014 2:28 PM

    I’m not inaccurate.

    Wilfork got hurt in the 1rst qtr of the Atl game(game 4). He played in 3 full gms last yr. Tommie Kelly, another Pro Bowler(no longer at that level, but was playing well) and Mayo were hurt in the NO game(game 6). With McCourty, that’s 4 Pro Bowlers up the middle. In the 3 full games they were all healthy, the Pats gave up 37 pts. Total. Those are the accurate facts. The Pats have weaknessess, but up the middle isn’t one of them. The author of the article correctly pointed out their weaknessess, although, I don’t think losing Blount is a big deal. They didn’t lose anyone of note, but added some good players and have a lot of key players coming back from injury. Watch out.

  78. gashmr says: Jul 21, 2014 4:17 PM

    Any of the top 5 teams, including the Pats, can win the big one with a hot habnd at the right time.

    Last yar Seahawks (I am a Hawks fan) were #4 in preseason here at PFT. They beat the #1-49ers in a close contest for the NFC, and the #2 Broncos for the SB.

    So what I guess I am saying, as I said on Denver’s ranking is that any of the top 8 teams could get hot and win.

    How hot? in 2012 the Seahawks were rated #22 in preseason and in their final game were 31 seconds away from the NFC Championship game when Atlanta got hot.
    I don’t seriously believe they could have beaten 49ers for the NFCCG but they were certainly better than #22 in the preseason.

  79. atthemurph says: Jul 21, 2014 4:48 PM

    Way too high.

    37 year old QBs generally don’t have much left, right Mr. Manning?

  80. rodneyharrisonstruckstick says: Jul 21, 2014 4:54 PM

    You say “they haven’t done anything since spygate” Yet the year of/post “Spygate” they were 90seconds, one David Tyree hailmary helmet catch away from being the greatest team to ever play the game, or even in sports history. Simultaneously crowning them with the title of being the greatest dynasty in football history.

    If you define a teams success or discredit such by either one play (or lack there of) or by an exemplary punishment via technicality, then you my friend are an yahoo idiot. And in all probability, just a lonely jealous fan of a perennially losing team. And you know thats the truth! Apples

  81. politicallyincorrect says: Jul 22, 2014 11:53 AM

    I really wish the league would stop promoting and protecting the Pats.

    Have we not all had enough of these “we were duped” covers for lack of class and ethics?

    No way are Pats a top 5 NFL team… AFC, yes, but not NFL…. I see them more in the 8-12 range, though they will win division and have good record… and I do think Brady is the best of his era…….don’t think much of BB or Kraft though

  82. superjay3282 says: Jul 22, 2014 11:55 AM

    Peyton Manning is the GREATEST QB of ALL-TIME!!!

  83. bospat says: Jul 22, 2014 9:09 PM

    Peyton..greatest reg season Qtbk ever

  84. penthousepauper1960 says: Jul 24, 2014 4:48 PM

    BTW:

    Belichek beat the Patriots in a play-off game while he was coaching the Browns.
    I believe Bledsoe was the QB.

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