Walker: Are Pats better than 2012?

May, 10, 2013
5/10/13
3:00
PM ET
Earlier this week we posted a blog entry asking if the Patriots are better or worse than last season based on the moves they’ve made this offseason. Our poll indicates that Pats’ fans think the team has improved.

SportsNation

Are the Patriots better or worse than last season?

  •  
    74%
  •  
    26%

Discuss (Total votes: 12,720)

But writing for ESPN.com’s AFC East blog, James Walker isn’t so sure about that. Writes Walker:

The championship window for the New England Patriots will not be open forever. Both quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick are entering the tail ends of their respective careers -- meaning that the time for this Hall of Fame pair to win a fourth championship together is now.

New England was one game away from reaching the Super Bowl last season, suffering an upset at Gillette Stadium at the hands of the eventual champion Baltimore Ravens.

Can the 2013 Patriots win it all? Here are five reasons why this season's Patriots are neither better than nor as dangerous as last season's:

Reason No. 1: Too many changes at receiver

Analysis: New England had the NFL's No. 1 offense and No. 4 passing game in 2012. If it's not broken, why did the Patriots make so many changes? New England opted to let go of starting receivers Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, who combined for an astounding 192 receptions, 2,265 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Rest assured, the Patriots will not get that kind of production from their 2013 replacements. Danny Amendola will start in place of Welker. Amendola doesn’t have anywhere near the same production and durability as Welker -- he missed more games (20) the past two seasons with the St. Louis Ramsthan he played (12). The Patriots desperately need their new No. 1 receiver to play 16 games, which is a risky proposition. After Amendola, who will be New England's No. 2 and No. 3 receivers is unknown. There will be competition among Donald Jones, Michael Jenkins,Lavelle Hawkins and rookies Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson to fill those roles. New England's receivers won't strike fear into opposing defenses this year. Look for the Patriots' passing game to take a step back in 2013, particularly on the outside at wide receiver.

To see the rest of Walker’s piece, click here.

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