NFL New England Patriots

Ten Players That Will Propel New England Patriots to 2013 Playoffs

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Former Patriots Receiver Wes Welker

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The first thing that New England Patriots fans need to do is come to terms with the fact that wide receiver Wes Welker is gone and he isn't coming back. He will now be playing catch with Peyton Manning in Denver and there is nothing we can do about it. We can thank Welker for the time he was here and then we need to move forward. The team isn't going to circle the drain just because one player has gone. In fact, I think this team will make it to the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Some of the other teams in the AFC East have improved, but the Patriots still appear to be the class of the division.

The Patriots' roster is far from set, not with the draft still to come and the eventual bargain bin selections by Bill Belichick. But one can still see who the impact players are going to be. The offense will still be a high powered one that will rely more on the passing game than the run. The defense should continue to improve, with getting pressure on the opposing quarterback still being something they will need to continue to work on.

This early on, I see the Patriots being an 11-5 team. Of course that prediction could change depending on injuries. Here are ten guys the Patriots will look to have good seasons from in order to obtain their goals. As with any of my lists if you disagree with the selections, please leave your choices in the comments section.

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10. Rob Ninkovich

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Watching Patriots games last season, it seemed like Rob Ninkovich was always around when a big play happened on defense. He had five forced fumbles and eight sacks, both of which led the team.

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9. Draft Pick

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The Patriots need a wide receiver since they allowed Brandon Lloyd to walk away. Maybe they will use their first draft pick to select a guy like Robert Woods of USC.

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8. Sebastian Vollmer

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Someone has to protect the quarterback and a big part of that responsibility falls on the broad shoulders of Sebastian Vollmer. The Patriots re-signed him to a four year contract, now he just need to prove he was worth it.

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7. Vince Wilfork

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The big guy may have had his second lowest tackle total of his career last season, but he is a force that any opponent focuses on.

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6. Danny Amendola

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Danny Amendola is in the unenviable position of stepping in for fan favorite Wes Welker. If he can stay healthy, I believe his numbers won't be that far away from Welker's.

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5. Stevan Ridley

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If the Patriots need to run the ball more this season, Stevan Ridley looks like he is ready to handle the workload. Last season, he had 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

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4. Aaron Hernandez

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If Rob Gronkowski misses some games to start the season, Aaron Hernandez will be the go to guy. He averaged five catches a game last season.

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3. Aqib Talib

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Aqib Talib is just what the secondary needs. If he can stay out of trouble with the law and the league, he can be an impact player.

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2. Rob Gronkowski

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Although his antics are getting a bit stale, there is little doubt that Rob Gronkowski is this team's best receiving weapon. If he can return healthy, and stay that way, he could set records as a tight end.

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1. Tom Brady

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It is no surprise that Tom Brady is on the top of this list. He may only have a few more seasons left and I'm sure he wants one more crack at a Super Bowl title. A hungry Tom Brady is a dangerous Tom Brady.