New England Patriots 2012 NFL Season Preview, Predictions

New England Patriots

www.patriots.com
2011 record: 13-3 (First in AFC East)

Fearless Forecast

  • Bucky Brooks

    Tom Brady and Co. are the class of the AFC, but it?s a rebuilt defense that will spark another deep postseason run.
    Prediction: 13-3, first in AFC East

  • Daniel Jeremiah

    The Patriots are the class of the AFC East, and I don't see the gap closing in 2012.
    Prediction: 13-3, first in AFC East

  • Adam Schein

    They employ Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. That means the Patriots are in the Super Bowl mix.
    Prediction: 14-2, first in AFC East

  • Steve Wyche

    There is no real threat in the division. The best team seemed to get even better with some nice acquisitions. O-line concerns will go away.
    Prediction: 13-3, first in AFC East

In The Spotlight
Devin McCourty | #32 | CB

We know the offense is going to be prolific. The defensive front looks good enough. Where improvement is needed is in the secondary, and that?s why New England badly needs a rebound season from McCourty, one of the league?s best rookies in 2010, and a player who quickly lost confidence last fall when the team played him in man coverage too much, leading to a disastrous 2011.

Tickets
3 Pivotal Games
Week 3 at Ravens
Starting 2-0 won?t be a herculean task: Win at Tennessee, beat the Cardinals at home. The first big test comes here, in a stadium where John Harbaugh?s crew didn?t lose in 2011 and against a team bent on showing it (absent a Lee Evans drop and Billy Cundiff shank) deserved the Patriots? Super Bowl berth.
Week 5 vs. Broncos
The truth is that the Patriots are almost certainly going to the playoffs, and that there won?t be too many true "must-win" games for them before then. So let?s go with one more chance to watch the renewal of what might be the greatest quarterback rivalry ever. Never know how many more we?ll get.
Week 15 vs. 49ers
One difference between this incarnation of the Bill Belichick Patriots and the one that won three titles is that the prior clubs were more physical. Belichick has worked to amend that. This cold-weather night game against the blood-and-guts Niners should be a good barometer of progress there going into January.