Extensive Patriots Preview - Part 1

The New England Patriots are a tough team to figure out.

They did finish an impressive 12-4, but in early December they lost to the Miami Dolphins 21-0, and the week before that they barely beat the Detroit Lions at home.

Just like last season, the Patriots have been ravaged by injuries, but have remained among the NFL's elite teams thanks to their future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady.

Even with a suspect receiving corps, he's kept this offense afloat.He lost his two favorite targets — Deion Branch (trade) and David Givens (free agent departure). The Patriots have had issues replacing these two mainstays. Two candidates — Doug Gabriel and Jabar Gaffney — both failed, and were released during the season. The only new receiver who has panned out thus far is former San Diego Charger Reche Caldwell. This has led Brady to throw to tight end Ben Watson quite a bit. And this leads us into the injury situation. Watson has missed the last several games with a knee injury. But it's really hard to figure out how severe the injury is because the Patriots are pathological liars on the injury report.

Another significant injury you have to wonder about is nose tackle Vince Wilfork. He's missed the last few games with an ankle injury.

If Watson and Wilfork can't play, this will be a huge break for the Jets. Watson is perhaps Brady's favorite target, and Wilfork is a very important part of the Patriots' 3-4 front at the all-important nose tackle spot.

Remember also that the Patriots lost starting cornerback Randall Gay, safety Eugene Wilson and linebacker Junior Seau.

Another starter, safety Rodney Harrison, will miss the Jets game with an MCL sprain.

So the Jets could enter this game as the healthier team which could be an advantage for them.

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