The New England Patriots have worked diligently this offseason to plug a number of holes. Considering they played in the Super Bowl and nearly won it last season, they weren’t in bad shape but they still needed to do some renovations. In Week 1, they’ll visit the Tennessee Titans and we’ll find out just how much progress they’ve made.
The Patriots offense should do just fine in Tennessee as they score on just about everybody. But they could be even more scintillating with the addition of stud wideout Brandon Lloyd. He’ll team with an already-elite unit that includes Wes Welker and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
But the biggest changes the Patriots made were on defense where they boosted a unit that was one of the worst in the NFL last season. The addition of first-round picks Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower should boost the first and second levels. Hightower solidifies a quality young linebacking corps that includes Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. It’s likely that trio plays an important role in Week 1 as they try to track down Titans star running back Chris Johnson.
Meanwhile, Jones will be counted upon to provide pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which is an area where the Patriots struggled last season.
The Titans are a very manageable opponent for the Patriots to start the season. They tend to do a lot of things well but they aren’t elite in any one area other than Johnson, who is coming off a disappointing season. Tennessee is also starting second-year quarterback Jake Locker, who is rather inexperienced and has looked inconsistent in the preseason, so the Patriots will have a huge edge in that regard.
As long as the Patriots keep Tom Brady’s jersey clean, he should lead his team to a Week 1 victory. The NFL odds makers are expecting it as the Patriots are a six-point favorite.