Camp questions: Will the Patriots win No. 4?

Camp questions: Will the Patriots win No. 4?
July 22, 2014, 9:30 am
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From now until the start of training camp, Tom E. Curran will pose -- and answer -- questions facing the Patriots. Today's question:

Will the Patriots win No. 4?

They have all the necessary elements. They also have a lot of “ifs.”

If Tom Brady gets the interior line protection.

If an outside receiver emerges (Kenbrell Thompkins, Brandon LaFell, the rehabbing Aaron Dobson) to complement the slot work of Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman.

If Rob Gronkowski doesn’t wind up in the shop.

If Stevan Ridley doesn’t drop footballs and Shane Vereen makes it through a season.

Then, yes, the Patriots will be a nightmare to defend.

Defensively, there’s but a single “if": if their health is good, they will be a defense that isn’t just hanging on for dear life.

The mental makeup of this team has to be on par with where it was last season when the Patriots out-toughed a lot of teams. And, one thing we didn’t appreciate as much in the early years of the 2000s, they need good fortune in huge games. They need to catch a bounce. They need to make the brilliant helmet catch or make the impossible sideline throw instead of dropping the difficult twisting reception that would have sealed a Super Bowl.

The competition in the AFC is tough with Denver and the Patriots on a January collision course. And if they get to February, the consensus right now is that the NFC is the tougher conference. Will the Patriots win the Super Bowl? Plenty of teams have as good a chance. Nobody has a better chance.