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Blogger Roundtable: New England Patriots

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

CHARGED asks some of the premier Patriots bloggers what to expect in 2011.

Blogger Roundtable: New England Patriots

As a part of CHARGED's NFL Preview, we surveyed the blogosphere to get opinions on NFL teams from the writers that know them the best.  We asked them the same four questions and here are the answers for the New England Patriots.

First up, we talked to Russ Loede, writer for Patriots Gab

1. Who's an up-and-coming player for the Patriots that fans should keep an eye on?

"Tight end Aaron Hernandez.  The second-year former Gator offers the moves which resemble that of a wide receiver.  I wouldn't be shocked to see Hernandez do with Brady what  Dallas Clark does with Peyton Manning - he's that talented."

2. What rookie do you see as having the biggest impact?

"Third-round draft pick Stevan Ridley.  The LSU product is a powerful runner who will allow the Patriots to give BenJarvus Green-Ellis a breather from time to time during short-yardage situations.  Ridley possesses the ability to also catch the rock, as shown in the preseason with his 10 receptions out of the backfield."

3. What was the key offseason acquisition for the Patriots?

"Chad Ochocinco is going to give Tom Brady another precision route-runner to target.  I expect the ex-Bengal to provide the Pats with the same type of swagger Randy Moss gave the club a few years back."

4. What are your predictions for the regular season wins/postseason?

"Nothing less than 11 wins.  An AFC Division crown.  Super Bowl or bust.  I predict a Super Bowl XLVI appearance against the New Orleans Saints and a 31-27 loss to Drew Brees' bunch."

Make sure to check out Loede's take on a potential Randy Moss return and follow their Twitter feed: @PatriotsGab.

We also asked these same questions to Bleacher Report's featured Patriots columnist Erik Frenz.  Frenz also contributes to Cold, Hard Football Facts.

1. "Aaron Hernandez stepped up big when Rob Gronkowski went down with an injury in the preseason.  He was practically un-coverable in red zone drills in practice, and led the team in receptions this preseason.  His hot start to the 2010 season was cut short by a hip injury, but that looks to be completely behind him at this point.  Their offense still figures to revolve around their tight ends, much like last year, and that means big things for both Hernandez and Gronkowski."

2. "The interesting thing about the Patriots draft is that they seemed to draft a group of guys they knew wouldn't be called upon to contribute in their rookie year.  If one guy can do it, though, Stevan Ridley looks like that guy.  He had a monster preseason, rushing 30 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns while also reeling in 10 passes for 74 yards and another score.  He's stuck in a crowded backfield, but his performance in the preseason should earn him some opportunities in the regular season as well."

3. "This one's a tie between Albert Haynesworth and Andre Carter.  The third-down defense was the big problem last year, with the Patriots ranking dead last with over 47 percent of conversions allowed.  That stemmed from their inability to pressure the quarterback with a four-man front, and the additions of Haynesworth and Carter figure to be the key factors in righting the ship."

4. "As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are in the fold, the Patriots will always be contenders.  I am predicting at least 12 wins, the AFC division title, and a first-round bye.  Of course, none of that matters, because the Patriots will have questions to answer come playoff time.  If the offensive line can protect Brady (13 sacks in the Patriots' last three playoff games) their new look defense should help them finally put their playoff demons to bed." 

For more from Frenz, make sure to check out his breakdown of the Patriots' week one matchup versus the Dolphins as well as a closer look at the battle in the trenches for that particular game.  You can also follow him on Twitter: @erikfrenz.

To see what CHARGED thinks about the upcoming Patriots season you can read our full AFC East preview and visit CHARGED.fm to get the best Patriots tickets all season long

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