Bill Belichick and the Pats have reloaded for the 2010 NFL season.
Two years removed from a serious knee injury, Tom Brady says he’s healthy and feeling better than ever. If that turns out to be the case it could spell trouble for the rest of the AFC.
This will be Brady’s 11th NFL football season and just like a fine wine he’s getting better with age. Tom Terrific threw for 4,398 yards and 28 touchdowns while compiling a 96.2 QB rating. Like the good ones do, he played hurt. Brady had a broken ring finger on his throwing hand and three broken ribs, but he had no discernable problems with his surgically repaired knee.
The Patriots were among the best-balanced teams in football last season. They ranked third overall in NFL football offense, third in passing and were sixth in scoring with a 26.7 per game average. Their defense was definitely on the stingy side allowing just 17.8 points per game, fifth best in the NFL.
Head coach Bill Belichick begins his 11th season with the Patriots looking to improve on a sterling 112-48 record. Under Belichick’s guidance New England has won three NFL titles and seven AFC East crowns.
New England on Offense
Brady will start the season without his favorite receiver Wes Welker who tore his MCL and ACL in a Week 17 loss to the Texans. In his three years with the Patriots, Welker has 346 receptions, including a league-high 123 grabs last season. He underwent major reconstructive knee surgery in February and is expected to miss at least the first two NFL football games of the regular season.
As an insurance policy the Pats brought in veteran Torry Holt who had 51 receptions a year ago in Jacksonville.
Brady still has Randy Moss who had 83 catches for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns. Moss is in a contract year, so one would expect his numbers and attitude to be better in 2010. It will be interesting to see how the absence of Welker will affect Moss in the early going.
Laurence Maroney had a combined 1,135 yards last season rushing, receiving and returning kicks in 2009. He rushed for 757 yards and nine touchdowns in 2009 but was in Belichick’s doghouse for his propensity to fumble.
Kevin Faulk, who averaged 5.4 yards per carry primarily as a third down back, returns as do Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor. What the Patriots lack in quality at this position they make up for in quantity.
New England on Defense
The Patriots have two of the best linebackers in the game in Jerod Mayo and Tully Banta-Cain. Mayo led the team in tackles (103) while Banta-Cain had a team high 9.5 sacks.
New England added depth up front with Gerard Warren, Marques Murrell and Damione Lewis. The secondary, headed by Brandon Meriweather and Leigh Bodden remains a strong point. Both had five interceptions and a touchdown return last season.
NFL Betting Odds
New England Patriots 2010 Draft
The Patriots are one of those teams that reload instead of rebuild. They picked up 12 players in the draft with a third of them coming from the Florida Gators. Defensive back Devin McCourtry from Rutgers was the team’s top selection, taken 27th overall.
Other notables from the class of 2010 include tight ends Rob Gronkowski (Arizona) and Aaron Hernandez (Florida), linebackers Jermaine Cunningham (Florida) and Brandon Spikes (Florida), WR Taylor Price (Ohio) and QB Zac Robinson from Oklahoma State.
Betting the Patriots' Future
The Patriots and Jets are the co-favorites in the AFC East at +130. New England is listed at 6/1 to win the AFC title and 12/1 to capture the Super Bowl for the fourth time in franchise history. The Pats win total for the 2010 campaign opened and remains at 9.5 games.
One key betting stat from last year was New England's 10-5-1 'under' record that included a 4-0-2 mark within the division.
New England's 2010 NFL football schedule promises to be one of its toughest in recent years with six of their eight home games coming against teams that made the playoffs last season. The Colts, Ravens, Packers and Vikings will be among those visiting Foxboro.
The aura of invincibility might be gone but the talent and solid management structure remain. I’ll agree that Belichick rubs many people the wrong way but he’s still one of the best coaches in the game.
The organization as a whole from owner Bob Kraft on down has been a model of consistency and is among the classiest in the NFL. The Jets and Dolphins figure to be much improved this season but the road to the AFC East championship still goes through New England until further notice.