Patriots: What they have to do

What they have to do can be defined in many ways. report on what the Patriots need to do to be successful in 2007. One hint: keep the man pictured healthy.

The Patriots look to be loaded this year. They were one minute from the Super Bowl last season and on paper, they are much more talented heading into the 2007 campaign.

On offense, Tom Brady is armed with the most talented group of receivers he's had since he became the starting quarterback in New England. Randy Moss and Donte' Stallworth will stretch the field on the outside, while Wes Welker and Jabar Gaffney eat defenses up underneath. Tight end Benjamin Watson and running back Kevin Faulk are two more dangerous targets Brady has at his disposal. Toss in a healthy Laurence Maroney and this offense could be scary.

Defensively, the Patriots are always strong under coach Bill Belichick. New England brought in the versatile Adalius Thomas this off-season and he will start the year at inside linebacker. The trio of Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork gives the Patriots arguably the best defensive line in the NFL.

Three keys for the season

1. Tom Brady must stay healthy. Belichick has shown he can lose virtually anyone and keep winning. But losing Brady -- one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL -- would be too much for even the Patriots to overcome.

2. The offensive line needs to be more consistent. New England has put a lot of money into its offensive line and, while it's been good at times, it also has games where it looks awful. This unit needs to step up and play with more consistency because Brady has taken too many hits over the last two years.

3. Stay the course on defense. The Patriots set a franchise record for points allowed last year and they'll need an even better effort from their defense this season. With high-flying offenses like the Chargers, Colts, Bengals and Cowboys on New England's schedule, its defense is going to have to get to the quarterback and make teams settle for field goals, something they were very effective at doing last year.

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