But New England enters the 2010 season with a label — or, lack thereof — that they haven’t had in a long time. Thanks to a deep run in the 2009 playoffs and a headline-filled offseason, the New York Jets have widely been crowned the "team to beat" in the AFC East.
The Patriots will welcome that challenge with open arms. After all, they still have Tom Brady. They still have three Super Bowl rings and four appearances to the big game. And even though they have a young defense with limited experience, the Patriots’ offense is loaded with Pro Bowlers and veterans who will fill out their own wing in Canton one day.
1,846: Number of combined career receptions by Patriots wide receivers Randy Moss (fourth among active receivers with 926) and Torry Holt (fifth with 920), the most by any receiving tandem in the league. The Bengals’ Terrell Owens (second with 1,006) and Chad Ochocinco (10th with 684) rank second in the NFL with 1,690 combined receptions.
11,540: Number of career rushing yards for Fred Taylor, who ranks third among active players. Taylor may be battling for the Patriots’ fourth running back roster spot with Laurence Maroney and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
30,844: Number of career passing yards for Tom Brady, who ranks sixth among active quarterbacks — fifth, if Brett Favre does indeed call it quits. Brady also leads all active quarterbacks with his three Super Bowl rings.
440: Combined number of NFL starts by the starting Patriots’ offensive line in 2010. Dan Koppen (103 starts), Matt Light (122), Logan Mankins (80), Steve Neal (73) and Nick Kaczur (62) give the Pats one of the best and most experienced O-lines in the league. Of course, that also depends on Mankins' future with the Patriots which is uncertain to say the very least.
367: Number of career receptions for Patriots tight end Alge Crumpler, who ranks fifth among active NFL tight ends. Crumpler thrived with the Falcons when he played with Michael Vick, and should be a contributor with Brady at the helm.
4: Number of players that were on the 2001 New England Patriots Super Bowl-winning team that will play for the Pats in 2010. Brady, Neal, Light and Kevin Faulk bring incredible playoff pedigree to a team that will fight in yet another competitive AFC.