Pats Seek First Super Bowl Win Since 2004

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After falling just 30 minutes short of punching their Super Bowl tickets in 2012, the New England Patriots will look to finish the job this season. With the rest of the AFC East in various stages of rebuilding efforts, New England appears to have a great chance at taking their division again in 2013. The Patriots’ offense was spectacular in 2012, as QB Tom Brady posted another MVP-caliber season, and the running game, led by Stevan Ridley, made a surprising resurgence in Foxborough. The healthy return of superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski in 2013 should be a huge benefit to Brady and the offense. Gronk missed significant time last season with a broken arm, so his health will be at a premium in 2013. In fact, the Patriots could need Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to be more productive than ever, as Wes Welker is an unrestricted free agent who may explore his options on the open market. While Welker is undeniably a perfect fit in the New England offense, he may try to get the most money possible, as the shifty slot receiver is now on the wrong side of 30. The line could also lose starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer to free agency, making that another position for Pats’ fans to watch this offseason.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Pats improved in 2012, but they still have holes to fill in the secondary. Midseason acquisition Aqib Talib was the team’s best cornerback down the stretch, but he is an unrestricted free agent who may not be in New England’s long term plans. Devin McCourty seems to have settled in as an effective safety, but the Patriots can also do better than Steve Gregory at the other safety spot. And while Vince Wilfork remains the gold standard by which all nose tackles are measured against, he will be 32 by the end of the season, and the Pats could think about drafting his potential replacement in April as well. After years of trading down in the draft, the Patriots used both of their first round picks last season, and with the team still needing a few more pieces on defense, Bill Belichick should be able to fill those needs this spring.

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