Last Season: 12-4, 6-0 division Playoffs: Lost to Baltimore in third round Stat Leaders: QB Tom Brady (4,827 YDS, 34 TDS, 8 INTS); RB Stevan Ridley (1,263 YDS, 12 TDS); WR Wes Welker (1,354 YDS, 6 TDS); LB Jerod Mayo (147 TACKLES, 3.0 SACKS) The Buzz: Tom Brady bounced back from a minor preseason knee injury with dazzling performances, reinforcing his standing as one of the NFL's top three active quarterbacks. Brady faces the challenge of helping a cast of teammates with little notoriety shine thanks to offseason issues depleting the lineup. Patriots coach Bill Belichick's ability to limit the impact of external distractions has helped the team cope with the arrest of former tight end Aaron Hernandez, current Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's offseason surgeries and the acquisition of reserve quarterback Tim Tebow. The Patriots have a reliable defense that should have no issue in division games, but the pass defense ranked No. 29 in the NFL last season needs to step up if New England hopes to claim another Super Bowl win. Luck Factor: The Patriots will be lucky if they can say at the end of the season none of the major off-the-field issues distract the team this season.
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