After a tough 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, the New England Patriots’ dynasty might appear as if it is coming apart. Not exactly. Even at 40 years of age, quarterback Tom Brady had one of the better seasons in his career capped off by a record-setting performance, 505 passing yards, in the Super Bowl. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and WR Brandin Cooks are still under contract and New England will return WR Julian Edelman from his knee injury. That is why the Patriots are the early favorite to win next year’s Super Bowl.
The New England offense, which totaled 613 yards of offense, will return intact for the most part in 2018. Brady, who will turn 41 in August, told reporters after Sunday’s loss that he did not see any reason why he wouldn’t return for the 2018 season. After what he did to the Philadelphia defense, there is no doubt that the future Hall of Famer still has a few more years left in him.
The Patriots will lose offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, which may interrupt some of the offense’s rhythm as it prepares for 2018. McDaniels will become the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. New England will also lose defensive coordinator Matt Patricia who is set to become the Detroit Lions next head coach. Despite the losses of two quality coaches, head coach Bill Belichick will surely reload his coaching staff.
Most of Brady’s weapons on offense will return including Gronkowski, who had two touchdowns in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Edelman, who tore an ACL during training camp, caught 98 passes for 1,106 yards in 2016. He has been Brady’s go-to receiver since 2013 amassing a total of 356 catches for 3,826 yards over his past four seasons.
Running back James White is still under contract but Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead will both be unrestricted free agents. Burkhead signed a one-year deal with the team last year and Lewis ends his two-year deal when the 2017 season ends in March.
Where the Patriots will need to improve the most is on defense where Belichick and company finished 29th in total yards per game allowed. New England was one of the NFL’s worst against the pass giving up 251.3 yards per game, 30th in the league. Still, the Patriots figured out a way to bend but not break as they finished fifth in points allowed per game (18.5).
As long as Belichick and Brady are around, the Patriots will always have a shot at a championship. Consider that New England has won the last nine straight AFC East Division titles. The Patriots have played in the past seven AFC championship games winning four. That is why they are 9-2 favorites to capture next year’s Super Bowl which will be played in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Feb. 3.