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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Patriot Preview

The sausages are sizzling on the grill; the beer is chilling in the fridge; the phone is off the hook, all inpreparation for…football

That’s right, folks. The National Football League has returned. And this season promises to be an exciting one, especially if you root for the Flying Elvises, i.e. the Patriots.

And why shouldn’t you be? With the Red Sox precarious position in the playoff race, the region is ready to embrace the return of football. And after the 4-0 preseason record that the team amassed, visions of the Super Bowl dance in the heads of Pats fans.

But before you start plunking down money for tickets to the Big Game, a grueling 16 game schedule awaits. And it is grueling.The Pats happen to play in the AFC East, the most competitive division in the NFL. Miami loaded up on defensive players through free agency (much like the Pats did) and is the trendy pick among many to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Last year’s division winner, the New York Jets, has lost a bundle of talent since their playoff loss to Oakland, including rising star QB Chad Pennington for much of the season. However, they can still be a thorn in the sides for their division rivals. And the Drew Bledsoe led Buffalo Bills have improved to the point where they have legitimate aspirations for making the playoffs.

And the rest of the conference is not going to bow down and let the Pats march unimpeded to the championship. Oakland is still a formidable, albeit a bit elderly, squad. They should capture the AFC West. Tennessee is not the feared team they once were, but QB Steve McNair is a proven winner in the AFC South. The AFC North will be captured by Pittsburgh, another familiar foe to Patriots Nation. Other teams to watch include Baltimore and Indianapolis.

Three players that the Pats need to have a big year: second year tight end Daniel Graham (Brady needs another option downfield besides Troy Brown); free agent acquisition and behemoth Ted Washington (run defense begins and ends with him); rookie cornerback Eugene Wilson, (he needs to fill the void left by the departure of Otis Smith).

The Pats should make the playoffs and after that, who knows? I believe that the team playing the best ball at the end of December should go the Super Bowl (unlike the NFC where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles will once again meet in the NFC Championship). If the Pats improve their overall defensive play from a year ago, they have an excellent shot at the Big Game.