The New England Patriots held off the Seattle Seahawks to win Super Bowl 49. They have since had an interesting offseason. They’ve had to defend their success after rumors of cheating was brought to light by the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC Championship Game. A lot is still unknown about the situation. Tom Brady is still battling the league to get his suspension reduced or thrown out completely.
The Patriots lost some key players on defense this offseason. Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis and long-term veteran Vince Wilfork left Belichickville. Can the Patriots repeat as champs with only an average defense?
Here is the 2015 NFL team preview for the New England Patriots.
2014 Win/Loss Record: 12-4
Key Additions: WR Reggie Wayne, TE Scott Chandler, CB Robert McClain, CB Bradley Fletcher, RB Travaris Cadet, QB Ryan Lindley & TE Asante Cleveland
Key Losses: RB Shane Vereen, RB Stevan Ridley, DT Vince Wilfork, ILB Jonathan Casillas, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Brandon Browner, CB Kyle Arrington, TE Tim Wright, OG Dan Connolly, OLB Akeem Ayres, DE Michael Buchanan, CB Chimdi Chekwa, OL Jordan Devey & ILB Brandon Spikes
2015 Draft Picks: DT Malcolm Brown, S Jordan Richards, DE Geneo Grissom, DE Trey Flowers, OG Tre Jackson, C Shaq Mason, LS Joe Cardona, OLB Matt Wells, TE AJ Derby, CB Darryl Roberts & DE Xzavier Dickson
Non-Division Schedule: AFC South, NFC East & (Denver/Dallas)
Fantasy Sleeper: RB James White – I’m sure nine out of ten people that write about New England fantasy sleepers will mention running back Jonas Gray. He had a monster game against Indy last season. He rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns…but a week later New England picked up LeGarrette Blount off the street. Gray wasn’t seen much after that. New England no longer has a running back for passing downs (both Vereen & Ridley are gone). Blount has bricks for hands, so there’s a need to a pass-catching running back. White is my pick to fill that role.
Offense – QB Tom Brady, RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Julian Edelman, WR Danny Amendola, WR Reggie Wayne, TE Rob Gronkowski, LT Nate Solder, LG Josh Kline, C Bryan Stork, RG Ryan Wendell & RT Sebastian Vollmer
Defense – DE Rob Ninkovich, DT Sealver Siliga, DT Dominique Easley, DE Chandler Jones, OLB Jamie Collins, MLB Jerod Mayo, OLB Dont’a Hightower, CB Malcolm Butler, CB Bradley Fletcher, SS Patrick Chung & FS Devin McCourty
Team Analysis: The Patriots won their first Super Bowl in a decade by defeating Seattle in one of the oddest title-clinching plays in NFL history. They also battled rumors of cheating by deflating footballs. The rumors were somewhat validated, but it is still awfully cloudy about the organization’s role in everything. Tom Brady was slapped with a four-game suspension, but as of this post, has yet to officially rule on the appeal. I believe he will get a reduced suspension, but he will not get off completely. The Patriots lost some veterans on defense this offseason and bring in nearly a new running back group from the start of last season. I believe the biggest holes they haven’t adequately filled are in the secondary. This will come back to haunt them when they face teams like Indianapolis and Denver in the regular season. I don’t see this season going the same way as last year. Their defense isn’t as good and if they suffer injuries to key players on offensive, specifically the offensive line, they will have trouble outscoring their opponents. I still think New England limps into the postseason, but I don’t forecast them winning the AFC East.
2015 Wins Over/Under Line: 10.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2015 Projected Win/Loss Record: 9-7 (2nd in AFC East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.