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Deja vu? The New England Patriots (13-3) did it again in Super Bowl XLVI. Another brilliant late fourth quarter touchdown drive by the New York Giants stunned the Patriots and turned a victory into a bitter 21-17 defeat. In 2007, New York stunned the Pats by way of a miracle finish to end their perfect season attempt, 17-14. Has New England healed? Can they repeat as AFC Champs?
It all begins and ends with QB Tom Brady. Brady had a spectacular regular season finishing with 5,235 yards & 39 TD. 17 TD passes went to All Pro TE & fantasy stud Rod Gronkowski. WR Wes Welker snagged 122 receptions & 1,569 yards. Make no mistake, Patriots are pass first offense. All teams know it. Very few can defend. Now, add WR Brandon Lloyd into the mix for 2012. One of these days New England will spend a few bucks to sign a featured runningback. This team would be unstoppable with a bruising back. Just think, the Pats success has been accomplished without a bonified featured back. Rise or fall on Tom Brady's right arm.
Defense is a deceiving. New England displayed a bend but don't break style of play in recent years. It's hard for teams to keep up with a talented offense which almost seems to score at will during regular season action. Defenses always look better with an early 14-0 cushion. Guess what? Patriots made some key additions via draft. Coach Bill Belichik is a drafting guru. He picked up Syracuse DE Chandler Jones and Alabama LB Dont'e Hightower in the first round. If they mature quickly - then this defense just got a whole lot better in a hurry.
Projection: Very few coaches, if any, design better game plans week to week than Belichik. AFC East will be decided early. Patriots cruise to 12 wins if Brady remains healthy.