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Saturday, August 21, 2010
Feel from the fans: Optimism reigns

By Mike Reiss


NORWOOD, Mass. -- Shortly after touching down in Boston on Friday from the Patriots' preseason road win in Atlanta, one of Boston's sports-talk radio stations was on the dial and one drive-time host said something along the lines of: "I'm thinking of changing my opinion on this team based on these first two preseason games."

The Patriots have been impressive in their first two preseason games, wins over the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.

Because of the influx of so many new players on the roster over the past two years -- in which the club has made a whopping 24 draft choices, some of whom will be counted on to fill key roles -- many analysts and fans came into the year not knowing what to expect. The first two preseason games seem to have provided some clarity for some.

With this in mind, a Saturday field trip was hastily arranged to Jake-n-JOES Sports Grille -- which is located a Hail Mary pass north of Gillette Stadium in nearby Norwood -- to solicit the opinion of some Patriots fans.

Optimism is high.

"So far, they look good," said Ed Blake of Norwood, who donned a John Lynch No. 47 blue Patriots jersey. "The running game looks like it's pretty good, and I think Brady is coming out with more emotion than he did last year. I just hope the running backs stay healthy."

Arlington native Chris Sherburne likes the new look of the team's offense.

"The tight end sequence is just amazing. Bill Belichick, once again, he just wows me with his creativity," he said.

Wilmington resident Ed Liscio, who made a pitstop on his way to a Tom Petty concert, thinks the playoffs are a realistic goal.

"Looking at what they did last year and where they are this year, my opinion is that you have to at least go 4-2 in your division to win your division. I can see them doing that," he said. "Then I think it's a question of what you do against the NFC, and this year we have a couple of tough ones with the Packers, Vikings, Bears and Lions, and I think that Thanksgiving game [against the Lions] will be tougher than what people think. So really, ultimately, I think 10-6 or 9-7 may win this division. I don't see how they can't become one of the two wild-cards. My expectation would certainly be to make the playoffs."