New England Patriots

It’s been a tumultuous offseason for the New England Patriots. Whether by free agency or the legal system, the proud franchise has taken its share of losses ahead of the 2013 season. However, you might want to think twice before declaring their reign atop the AFC East over. In fact, it would still be a small shock if the Patriots don’t win their fifth straight division crown, and their 11th in the last 13 seasons. Here is a look at why you should expect the Patriots playing in another home playoff game come January.

Let’s look at what happened to New England in the offseason. Elite wide receiver Wes Welker ditched Tom Brady for Peyton Manning when he signed with the Denver Broncos, leaving a major void at wide receiver. Meanwhile, the Patriots potentially lost two of the top tight ends in the league. A murder charge has ended Aaron Hernandez’s brief run with the team, while ongoing injury problems have left the season in doubt for Rob Gronkowski. This has left Tom Brady with the likes of Michael Jenkins and Danny Amendola on the receiving end. But even with those losses at the skill positions, the Patriots aren’t going away any time soon.

First of all, they have one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the league. Brady has dominated before with less than stellar receivers. There’s no reason to think he won’t do so again. Amendola is no Welker, but he will be solid if he can stay healthy. With the depth at running back, the offense shouldn’t suffer a major drop like some think. And though it’s far from a strong point, the defense should be better than it was last year. The Patriots re-signed Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington, which should help the secondary. The front seven should also be stronger than it was in 2012, especially with a healthy Jerod Mayo.

If that’s not enough to be convincing, consider the rest of the division. The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets should both be among the worst teams in the NFL in 2013. That leaves the Miami Dolphins as the only team that can threaten the Patriots. And while Miami made some exciting moves on both sides of the ball in the offseason, they aren’t quite ready to take the AFC East mantle. Even with Mike Wallace catching passes, the Dolphins will still struggle to score. They might have a shot to unseat the Patriots, but it’s a long one.

Finally, the Patriots have something that no other team has in Bill Belichick. The coach has posted a winning season every year since 2001 with the Patriots, and that includes a 2008 campaign in which Brady was lost for the year in the first game. No matter what drama comes his way, Belichick always manages to stay the course. This year won’t be any different. When the dust settles in December, expect another double-digit win total and another AFC East crown for the Patriots.

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