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Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Hope and Concern: New England Patriots

By James Walker

The New England Patriots look to improve to 2-0 in Sunday's game against the undefeated Arizona Cardinals (1-0).

Here is a reason to be hopeful and concerned about the reigning AFC champs in Week 2:

Reason for hope: Improved defense

New England’s defense looked like a totally different group in Week 1 compared to last season. The Patriots were aggressive, physical and created turnovers. Even the secondary defended better, in part due to an increased pass rush. Rookies like Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones carried their preseason momentum into the regular season and made an immediate impact. The Patriots don’t need an elite defense. But if this group stays in the top half of the league, New England will be hard to beat.

Reason for concern: Threat of injuries

OK, let's be honest. There's really no major reason for the Patriots to be concerned this week. They are playing well on both sides of the football and face a Cardinals opponent that has a troubled quarterback situation. It would be a shock if the Patriots don't leave Gillette Stadium 2-0 on Sunday. However, New England's next game against the Baltimore Ravens (1-0) is going to be brutal. The Patriots have the easiest strength of schedule in the league, and this is probably their toughest game on paper. New England needs to stay healthy this week and go into that game at full strength. If New England has a sizable lead on Sunday, the team should not be shy to rest its starters in the fourth quarter.