Let's start by reminding ourselves of what the team was at the end of 2012. The Patriots were one of the best teams in the league last year, going 14-2 and losing the Super Bowl in the last minute. They had a top-3 offense in the league in terms of both points scored and yards gained. Defensively, they were #15 in points allowed but 31st in yards allowed. Their top two pass rushers from last year are gone. Matt Light retired. Green-Ellis left via free agency. What did they get in free agency? 1. They re-signed some key offensive players (Connolly, Koppen, Branch). 2. They added a useful and versatile OL (Gallery). 3. They got pass-rush help on the DL (Fanene, Scott). 4. They added two guys in the defensive backfield (Allen, Gregory). 5. They added two running backs (Fiammetta, Larsen). 6. They added TONS of receiving help (Lloyd, Stallworth, Gonzalez, Fells). And in the draft (and UDFA), they: 1. Got more defensive line help (Jones, Bequette, Forston). 2. Added some defensive backfield help (Wilson, Ebner, Dennard). 3. Got some additional OL help (Warren, Zusevics, Herman (TE, Iowa)). 4. Got one of the premier LB in the nation (Hightower). So they've added a bunch of guys that I really think can help them upgrade the defense long-term, and the offense should be even more explosive than it was last year. So here are my thoughts looking forward (obviously players need to be signed, show up to camp, there will be tons of cuts, etc.): 1. I think the Patriots will have the #1 offense in football in 2013, both in terms of yards and points. They will average 34+ points per game. Brady will throw for 5,000 yards again and 40+ touchdowns. The numbers won't look too far off what they were last year, but on the whole, they'll be more efficient and explosive. Ridley and Vereen will provide serious punch from the RB position. There will essentially be no way to defend them, so long as the OL does its job. 2. I think the defense will improve to a top-10 defense in terms of points allowed, and they will be top-15 in terms of yards allowed. I don't see a leap into elite defense status, but they will improve greatly. Last year here's what they allowed: - 1st four games: 24.5 ppg, 477.5 ypg, 368.8 pass ypg - games 5-16: 20.3 ppg, 388.9 ypg, 269.0 pass ypg - 3 playoff games: 17.0 ppg, 348.7 ypg, 224.0 pass ypg So the defense improved as the season went on, by virtually every measure. And before we say, look, they played teams with no good QB after game 4, I say really? Here's who they faced in the first 4 games of the year: - Mia (Henne) - SD (Rivers) - Buf (Fitzpatrick) - Oak (Campbell) Of those four, only Rivers is really any good. After game 4, they faced some bad QB, true, but they also faced Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. Bottom line? The D was much improved after the first 4 games of the year. And now they've added some *significant* defensive help. They'll also get back Dowling, who played well early until his injury. So I think their offense will be the best in the league and they'll really have a defense in the upper third of the league. And I think that will put them in the driver's seat in the AFC, and they'll finish with the top seed for the playoffs. From there, of course, who knows what happens, but we'll once again be looking at a deep playoff run. I see this team finishing the deal in 2012, getting the Pats' fourth Lombardi.