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It is very unfortunate that the New England Patriots cannot attend the postseason for the first time in the last six years even posting a respectable record of 11-5. It is only the second time an 11-win team did not make the playoffs in NFL history (Denver was the only other team in 1985). I don't think any team could achieve that record with all the things the Patriots had to overcome. Of course, it was disappointing the Jets could not defeat the Miami Dolphins or the Jaguars not being able to pull off an upset against Baltimore, but I was satisfied if the patriots could accomplish what they did this season.

Ever since Tom Brady went down during their opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs, every Patriots fan in New England knew this season would be different from last season's "almost" magical run. We did not know how capable Matt Cassel would perform in place of Brady because he was virtually unknown. His last start as a quarterback was in high school. Now, he has become a superstar in this league. This guy has the potential to become the next great quarterback. Also, the Patriots' defense was devastated by injuries especially in the secondary. The fact that everybody crossed out the Patriots after week 1 and New England almost reaching the playoffs without Tom Brady or their secondary from last year has got to be one of the best coaching job of Bill Belichick's career. You may debate the Patriots still had talent in Randy Moss or Wes Welker but you have to agree the Patriots resemble almost nothing from last year and they still have a great season. Only two Patriots (Kicker Stephen Gostkowski and WR Wes Welker) made the Pro Bowl so this season was built on team effort and not by individual talents. Close games between the Colts or Jets could have extended their season but this year was better than expected.

Could the Patriots repeat last year's performance with Tom Brady and a healthy defense? Probably not. Could the Patriots make the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl with Tom Brady and a healthy defense? I would say yes. Now for the future of this franchise. First of all, we are blessed by our great team over the last 7 years and there was even some talk of a dynasty after winning the Super Bowl three teams over a four-year span. Next year, expect a rebuilding season for Brady and his crew. Most likely, a team (maybe the Lions?) will sign Matt Cassel and I doubt the Pats will put a franchise tag and keep him for next year because we have Brady back. If the Patriots win their first few games, they have their swagger back and make a run for the Super Bowl. If not and they struggle at the start of the season, expect a rocky year and they will have to fight for the playoffs. This has been a great year and hopefully we will regain our spot as the best team in the NFL.

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