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In Depth 2015: New England Patriots

Tom Brady and the Patriots were just 2-2 after four games and the defense had given up 33 and 41 points in the two in-depthlosses. But after a 41-14 loss against Kansas City on a Monday night, during which Brady’s critics were ready to declare his career done, New England caught fire.

The Patriots plowed through the last 12 games, going 10-2 – with one of those losses being a meaningless finale against Buffalo. The season culminated in the team’s fourth Super Bowl championship, won in amazing fashion when New England’s defense intercepted a pass at the goal line with less than a minute left in the game.

But the offseason has been a bit tumultuous, with free agency losses and DeflateGate. Was this the end of the run for the Brady/Bill Belichick dynasty? Or will the Patriots again rally around an Us vs. The World philosophy, while pushing forward with yet another Super Bowl run? Richard Hill, managing editor of Pats Pulpit, shares his thoughts.

Zoneblitz: The Patriots took home another Lombardi Trophy last year – what went right and how would you assess the season? Continue reading

In Depth 2015: Seattle Seahawks

Seattle looked to have it made. The defending champs were one yard away from taking the lead from New England in-depthwith less than a minute left in the Super Bowl and there was little doubt the Seahawks were about to have their repeat.

Then the interception happened, saving the Patriots and sending Seattle home disappointed.

The Seahawks have spent the offseason retooling at a few positions, particularly in the secondary, the offensive line and at tight end, where Jimmy Graham arrived in a trade for center Max Unger. So can the Seahawks put the disappointment behind them and make another run at the Lombardi Trophy? Or does the last-second letdown linger, creating an opportunity for someone else to jump in and take the NFC’s spot in the Super Bowl? Keith Myers, an editor with 12th Man Rising, shared some thoughts.

Zoneblitz: Seattle was one yard away from a second straight Lombardi Trophy, but lost in stunning fashion. Looking back now, how do you assess the season? Continue reading

In Depth 2015: Green Bay Packers

The 2014 season came to a brutal end for Green Bay Packers fans, who watched in horror as the team was on the in-depthwrong end of one of the best comebacks in NFL postseason history. But the loss to Seattle couldn’t dampen the exciting run that got them to the NFC Championship.

An elite offense coupled with an improving defense to run roughshod over most of the league for the final three-quarters of the regular season. And much of the core is back. So can the Packers make another run into the deep postseason? Or will a hangover from 2014’s rough ending scuttle any chance of a repeat run? Ray Rivard, editor of Lambeau Ave., shares his thoughts.

Zoneblitz: Green Bay rolled through the regular season and into the NFC Championship game where everything was going right until the last minutes when the Super Bowl slipped away. How would you assess the season? Continue reading

In Depth 2015: Indianapolis Colts

in-depthEver since Andrew Luck joined the Colts in 2012, Indianapolis has made the playoffs. And each of those seasons the team has advanced one step further than the year before.

If that holds true to form in 2015, Indianapolis will be playing in the Super Bowl. But can the Colts improve on three straight 11-5 seasons enough to make that next step? There is a lot of talent on this team and some newly added veteran leadership in Trent Cole, Frank Gore and Andre Johnson.

But the Colts also eschewed greater perceived needs on the offensive line and the defense on draft day, instead selecting Phillip Dorsett, another weapon for an already loaded offensive arsenal.

Evan Reller, editor of Horseshoe Heroes, gives us his thoughts on what has gone right and wrong over the offseason and on how the team is stacked for a run at the Lombardi Trophy.

Zoneblitz: The Colts went 11-5 for the third straight year under Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck. And they made another step in the playoffs, reaching the AFC Championship game, but were handled by the Patriots. How do you assess the season? Continue reading

In Depth 2015: Denver Broncos

Denver has won 38 games over the last three regular seasons, often looking dominant in doing so. But while that part of the schedule has produced success, each of the postseason runs associated with those seasons has ended in disappointment.

After another early post-season exit to Indianapolis, John Elway made some major changes. Gary Kubiak replaces in-depthJohn Fox as the head coach. Several key contributors on the field – including WR Wes Welker, TE Julius Thomas and DT Terrance Knighton – have moved on, as well.

But future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning returns for at least one more run. He looked bad while playing through injury the last month-and-change of 2014, but the first part of that season and the entirety of 2013 give at least some hope that he’s still got enough left in the tank to make one more run. Is 2015 the year Peyton rides off into the sunset carrying a Lombardi Trophy?

Sayre Bedinger, editor at Predominantly Orange, shares his thoughts.

Zoneblitz: Denver had another top-notch regular season at 12-4, but missed the mark in the postseason. How would you assess the season? Continue reading

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