This article is part of our Team Previews series.
STATE OF THE TEAM
The Patriots finished the 2011 season a spiffy 13-3. In doing so, they became just the third team in NFL history to win at least 10 games in nine consecutive seasons. That said, the team's second Super Bowl loss to the Giants in five years resulted in a disappointing vibe that overrides the impressive consistency, stability and success the franchise has enjoyed since the team's renaissance began in 2001. That's the year that Tom Brady took over at quarterback and the second season of coach Bill Belichick's tenure. Five Super Bowl appearances later – three of them wins – the team remains deep and talented, with Brady still going strong. Nothing lasts forever though, and the team's offseason approach, which included uncharacteristic moves to trade up in the draft, was designed to re-load for another championship run while the Brady/Belichick window is still open.
A New England offense that scored an impressive 32.1 points per game last season, bid adieu to the workmanlike BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but otherwise remains intact, bolstered by additions like WRs Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney, RB Joseph Addai and TE Daniel Fells. Second-year backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are unproven, but both possess more upside than Green-Ellis, though his rare ability to hold on to the ball will be missed. With the return of Brady, prolific wideout Wes Welker and the team's formidable, one-two punch at tight end – Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez – scoring points will be