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New England Patriots fans are ready for some football. But is the team?
The Patriots kick off their regular games Monday night against the Dolphins in Miami.
Can quarterback Tom Brady lead the team to the playoffs again or are the Pats due for a decline? Will new additions Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco revive their careers in New England? Can the Patriots get over their archrival and recent bugaboo, the New York Jets?
Ahead of the team's first game, they're all good questions. In fact, after getting blown out in the penultimate preseason game by the Detroit Lions — not a great team recently — Patriots fans might be a bit worried heading into Monday's regular season opener.
But with last year's MVP, Brady, back under center, the Patriots should be fairly set on offense, according to ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss.
"I think if the Patriots can pass protect, they have the pieces to be one of the NFL's better offenses," Reiss told Morning Edition's Bob Oakes.
There are a few question marks on defense, however. The team will look to a veteran defensive line to stay healthy and for a young secondary to quickly gain experience.
"On defense, they have a lot of depth along the defensive line," Reiss said. "We'll see how that depth manifests itself. Now, it looks like a good group for them."
Haynesworth, a defensive lineman, and Ochocinco, a wide receiver, can be useful pieces. The question, of course, is whether either player becomes a distraction off the field.
"(Ochocinco and Haynesworth) bring a lot of talent, but they also bring a lot of off-field questions," Reiss said.
Bottom line, most observers think the Patriots has a shot at another postseason run.
"It starts with Bill Belichick, the head coach, and Tom Brady, the quarterback, but also the depth on the entire roster," Reiss said. "They have a lot of talent here in New England."
This program aired on September 12, 2011.
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