Patriots' Moves Make Them Team to Beat
The New England Patriots will enter next season as the league's clear-cut Super Bowl favorite.
The Patriots already had a good team, reaching the AFC title game last season even after leaving themselves shorthanded at wide receiver with the September trade of holdout Deion Branch to the Seattle Seahawks. They have addressed their receiver need by trading for the Miami Dolphins' Wes Welker, signing Donte Stallworth and Kelley Washington as free agents and, on Sunday, sending a fourth-round draft choice to the Oakland Raiders for Randy Moss.
No, Moss isn't the player that he once was in Minnesota. But he should be far better for the Patriots than he was for the Raiders. If anyone can get him to be focused, well-behaved and productive, it's Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.
Quarterback Tom Brady now has some help in the passing game, and an already sturdy defense has been bolstered even further by the free agent additions of linebacker Adalius Thomas and cornerback Tory James. While the Patriots have been adding, their fellow AFC heavyweights have been running in place or moving backward. The San Diego Chargers changed coaches and the Indianapolis Colts have followed their Super Bowl triumph by losing a string of contributing players. The Patriots aren't an overwhelming favorite, but Belichick and Brady have won Super Bowls with clubs far less talented and complete than this one.
By Mark Maske |
May 1, 2007; 10:11 AM ET
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