This article is part of our Team Previews series.
State of the Franchise
The Patriots finished the 2012 season with a 12–4 record to win the AFC East for the fourth season in a row, while earning a first-round bye as one of the AFC's top two seeds for the third straight year. En route, the team led the NFL with 557 points, the third-highest mark in NFL history. It was a strong campaign by most standards, but not when measured against the success the team enjoyed between the 2001 and 2004 campaigns, a span that saw the franchise capture three Super Bowl titles.
In diagnosing the team's failure to go all the way in 2012, it would be easy to point the finger at a defense that allowed 271.4 passing yards per game (29th in the NFL) and 27 TDs in the air, but interestingly, the most striking change engineered by the Patriots this past offseason was a total makeover of a receiving corps following a season in which the team's offense finished first in the NFL with 427.9 yards per game and fourth in passing yards (291.4). Starting wideouts Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd have since departed, replaced by Danny Amendola and a mixed bag of newcomers.
The Patriots are obviously banking on Amendola becoming the next prolific wideout in a system that saw Welker average 112 catches over his six years with the team. Moreover, the team is challenging QB Tom Brady to gel quickly with a rebuilt receiving corps. Perhaps getting him a little out