|Are the Patriots in the driver's seat to begin 2012?|
Alright, so we’re not even in training camp yet. So what? You’re like me: so happy to see something debatable and NFL-related, you’ll gobble it up like a street urchin on table scraps. Debate and speculation for a forthcoming NFL season are always fun, and consider this a handy primer on certain off-season moves that you may have missed. As always, this is one man’s opinion, and one man’s opinion alone.
1. New England Patriots (2011 record: 13-3)
Las Vegas projected wins: 12
Biggest free agent move: While Brandon Lloyd and Joseph Addai are attractive additions to a highly-efficient offense, the signing of defense end Jonathan Fanene from the Bengals may be even more potent. The Patriots let 33-year old Andre Carter walk, despite having ten sacks and a Pro Bowl selection. Fanene, through an injury-plagued career, gutted out 6.5 sacks for an improved Bengals squad in 2011, despite playing mostly as a back-up on nickel downs. He is expected to start for New England.
2012 outlook: Other than Carter, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Gary Guyton all exiting, it’s essentially the core group from a year ago that, had Rob Gronkowski had snared that Hail Mary pass, would be defending champions. With this nucleus in place, and barring a surprise team uprising in the AFC East, there’s no reason the Patriots won’t be back in the thick of things in 2012.
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