At long last, the Deflategate saga is behind us and everyone can start looking forward to some great football for the upcoming season. Fans of the Patriots who were pulling their hair out waiting to see how the quarterback’s appeal would turn out can finally breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to what could be another banner year for Belichick and New England.
It was looking like the Patriots would begin the season with backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo taking over starting duties while Tom Brady served out his four-game suspension. However, a ruling by a federal judge has thrown out the suspension, which should silence any doubts you had not only about drafting Brady for your fantasy league, but also of the Pats winning this division.
The lifting of Brady’s suspension along with the confirmation that he’ll be starting in Week 1 has already had a significant impact on the Patriot’s odds of achieving a Super Bowl repeat. The oddsmakers have had a field day and the moment Brady’s suspension was lifted, the probability of the Pats winning another title immediately took an uptick. As of Sept. 3, New England was trading at 5.10 win the AFC, but that all changed this morning (Sept. 4) with the odds already up to 4.7 and favorites to win the conference.
Despite the distractions and courtroom drama of the offseason, the Pats are looking strong to start the year. The team didn’t lose anyone too important to free agency and came away with a few new warm bodies for Tom Brady to target. Reggie Wayne’s been brought over after being cut from Indianapolis and could surprise a lot of people with his productivity, not unlike Steve Smith’s barnstorming season with the Ravens. Reggie Wayne could be New England’s next Randy Moss and it will be interesting to see how the 36-year-old WR’s potential final year plays out.
Rob Gronkowski is looking as healthy as ever and the 6-foot, 6-Pro Bowl superstar is set for another highlight season. Barring any unforeseen injuries, Gronk will be a top target and Reggie Wayne should help take some of the pressure off of the personification of a college keg-party. The NFL just released its preaseason list of the league’s top 100 players and the Patriots are the only team in the NFL with two players in the top 10. Tom Brady is No. 3 and Gronk sits at No. 10.
If LeGarrette Blount can manage not to fail another drug test while serving his one-game suspension then the run game will be stronger than ever for the team. The Bills may provide some competition in the East but no one else in the division has the offensive firepower to silence New England. With Brady out of the picture, other teams might have had a shot but now that he’s back the competition will have their work cut out for them.