New England Patriots
How many more years can the New England Patriots dominate the AFC? (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The New England Patriots are coming off a crushing Super Bowl loss that gifted the Philadelphia Eagles their first Lombardi trophy. Heading into 2018, the real question at hand is whether the Patriots window is starting to close? Pro Football Focus listed New England as the 4th best roster in the NFL. They couldn’t be more wrong because New England’s roster flat out stinks and are being carried by the brilliance of Bill Belichick but that’s a story for another day. As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are in town, New England will remain viable. What can we expect from the New England Patriots heading into training camp in 2018?

3 Position Battles To Watch:

1. Running Back: James White, Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, Jeremy Hill, Ralph Webb, Mike Gillislee, Brandon Bolden

I mean this is just ridiculous, right? No team needs this many running backs. In fact, I could make the argument that it’s even impossible for one of these running backs to get in a rhythm having to share this many carries. A 4-headed running back monster doesn’t make any sense. I would imagine in the typical Bill Belichick fashion that there will be days where Rex Burkhead doesn’t get a single carry and then days where he scores four touchdowns. The best part is you will never know which day is which so good luck trying to build out that fantasy lineup.

2. Wide Receiver: Julian Edelman, Jordan Matthews, Chris Hogan, Kenny Britt, Malcolm Mitchell, Braxton Berrios, Cordarrelle Paterson

Brandin Cooks? Later… Danny Amendola? See Ya… Julian Edelman? Suspended! Not that we should worry or anything because Braxton Berrios will probably be the next Wes Welker just because New England drafted him. It will be interesting to see if any of these guys get any significant traction or whether Gronk’s usage rate will skyrocket with the new makeshift receiving core. I would expect Edelman to have a solid season once he returns because Tom flat out trusts him.

3. Pass Rusher: TBD

Let’s be honest, this position doesn’t even exist for New England anymore. It’s gotten so bad that fans are clamoring for the return of Rob Ninkovich. If the Arkansas boys, Trey Flowers and Dietrich Wise, don’t create any pass rush than New England is very vulnerable. Getting Dont’a Hightower back should help but he’s supposed to be their middle linebacker. Tell me again how this is the 4th best roster in football @profootballfocus?

Ready To Breakout: Jordan Matthews

It’s time for this guy to get good because if not then I will have been severely wrong. Matthews is related to Jerry Rice! How can he not turn things around! Matthews has been nothing more than average during his first few years in the NFL never reaching the 1,000-yard mark. Heading into year 4, the former standout from Vanderbilt has always had the tools to be an excellent possession receiver but for some reason hasn’t popped yet. It’s now or never because the Pats always get the most out of guys.

Rookie To Watch: Isaiah Wynn

I think Isaiah Wynn has a shot to be a Pro Bowl guard for the next decade. New England has to be doing backflips at the fact that they landed him for overrated Brandin Cooks. The interesting thing to really watch is whether the team is forced to move him to left tackle where he played in college at Georgia. The Pats realistically have two right tackles but may have to play one at left despite the fact that they aren’t superstar pass protectors (Trent Brown – Marcus Cannon). Then again, Nate Solder was the most overhyped player in the NFL and flat out isn’t good so I may be overreacting to this one.

AFC East 2018 NFL Draft Grades: Jets Win, Bills Roll The Dice

Fantasy Sleeper: Jeremy Hill

Is it possible that Jeremy Hill is actually really good? Just hear me out. During Hill’s rookie year coming out of LSU, he averaged 5.1 yards per carry and rushed for over 1,100 yards. He even punched in 29 touchdowns his first three years before falling off a cliff in 2017. Is it possible that Cincinnati’s dysfunction is to blame? Remember, Rex Burkhead was a nobody in Cincy too.

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