This article is part of our Team Previews series.
New England Patriots
By Justin Mertes-Mistretta
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
Despite finishing the 2010 regular season with a record of 14-2, the Patriots were eliminated by the Jets in the divisional round of the playoffs. It marked the second-straight year New England finished atop the AFC East only to go one-and-done in the playoffs.
The league's Most Valuable Player last year, Tom Brady, was extremely efficient, throwing 36 touchdowns to just four interceptions. What's more, he did most of his damage without his projected top target, Randy Moss, who was abruptly traded after Week 4. The Patriots certainly didn't have a shortage of pass-catching options in the wake of Moss' departure however, with Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on hand. However, the lack of a deep threat eventually caught up with them in the playoffs as the Jets were able to pressure Brady, sacking him five times and forcing him to throw his first interception since Week 6.
The team addressed the need for a No. 1 receiver, trading for Chad Ochocinco. At age 33, the former Bengal receiver has his fair share of doubters, saying that "85" has lost a step. However, with all due respect to Carson Palmer, he has never played with a quarterback as talented as Brady. Ochocinco may not produce Randy Moss-like numbers circa '07, but he has a golden opportunity to revive his production in New England.
Along with an improved passing attack,