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NFL Carolina PanthersNew England Patriots

What Last Win Against Carolina Panthers Means For New England Patriots

Tom Brady Patriots

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It means 16-0, that’s what it means.

Eh, fine. Odds are, no.

But I think Robert Kraft and Coach Belichick are looking at a 14-2 season. Between the depth at receiver and halfback, the offensive side of the ball for New England looks set to give Peyton Manning‘s Denver Broncos a run for their money this year on the stat sheets.

Led by last year’s breakout star Julian Edleman, the receiving core looks as deep as it has been since the Gronk-Convict era. It includes Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski returning from injury, an offseason signing of former Carolina Panther Brandon LaFell, and second-year hopefuls Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins.

The backfield’s depth is comparable to that of years past with returners Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen and the new addition of highly regarded fourth round draft pick James White.

And Tom Brady still shows up to games — so that’s always useful.

None of that is really all that new or surprising though. Brady is still there, his receivers look good thanks to him and the team wins and loses with him. Brady, Brady, Brady…

However, that may not all be true for once. Shockingly, the most successful part of the team might lie within the defense. They’re young. They’re agile. They’re aggressive. Typically not words used to describe a characteristically sub-par defense (since the last championship win) overshadowed and covered for by — yeah, that guy again — Tom Brady.

For once, the high expectations weigh on the defense’s shoulders. With signings like Darrelle Revis and anti-drug spokesperson (ha) Brandon Browner, the secondary has already been prematurely crowned king by far too many industry professionals.

The offensive side of the ball will do its part — Rob Gronkowski or no Rob Gronkowski. This season falls into the hands of the defense. If healthy, I say the Patriots are looking at an AFC Championship appearance at the least. I say at the least because I see another banner being hoisted in New England and the Lombardi returning to Foxboro, MA.

In short, this past win against the Carolina Panthers shows signs of what the New England Patriots are up against in 2014: themselves.