It's pretty foolish for any team to talk about going undefeated in the NFL, particularly five months before the start of the season, but no team has enjoyed the sustained success the Patriots have over the past 17 years. With Super Bowl titles and two other trips to the big game, New England is rightfully in its typical spot as a title contender once again in 2017.
But this time it's a little different. An uncharacteristically aggressive offseason that saw the Patriots sign the highest-priced free agent in franchise history among several other big moves has the entire region buzzing. Unlike in 2007, when the Patriots went a perfect 16-0 in the regular season, much of that buzz is suggesting the team could run the table and this time cap off a perfect 19-0 campaign.
The offense has improved with the additions of Brandin Cooks and Mike Gillislee. The defense has improved with Stephon Gilmore and Kony Ealy. And Malcolm Butler remains in a Patriots uniform, ready to show the league his worth. It all adds up to a stacked roster looking for more.
So this week's Samsonite Make Your Case question of the week wonders, with the draft complete and the roster taking shape, will the Patriots go undefeated?
PFW's Andy Hart says...
There's no doubt the Patriots can pull off that feat, and unlike 2007, this time they can finish it off. The offense was already potent and now it adds Brandin Cooks to the equation. Cooks gives the group a big-play element it lacked a year ago. And with Mike Gillislee replacing LeGarrette Blount at running back the offense could even add some more big-play potential in the running game.
Defensively, now that it looks like Malcolm Butler is staying the secondary has been upgraded with Stephon Gilmore thrown into the mix. The draft brought a pair of young pass rushers in Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise, and they should provide some depth in the one area that may have lacked it.
Tom Brady is coming off an historic Super Bowl and he remains as hungry as ever to compete. It all adds up to a whole lot of trouble for the rest of the league.
PFW's Paul Perillo says...
There's no question the Patriots are and should be prohibitive favorites to get to and win the Super Bowl. They finished 2016 as the best and enjoyed a strong offseason that saw plenty of talent come to New England. But to expect a team to go undefeated in the NFL is asking a lot.
So many little things can happen during the course of a season that can cost a team a game. A couple of injuries, an uncharacteristic game that features turnovers or even one with some poorly-timed flags thrown against the Patriots could derail the quest for perfection.
Is the roster talented enough to pull it off? I say yes, but talent alone won't do it. It also requires some luck — remember the Ravens timeout that negated the Patriots failed fourth down in Baltimore in 2007? — and it's hard to expect any team to run the table.