Barbara Howard: The New England Patriots — they are back in action tonight. Their season begins at home at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro this evening. They're taking on the Kansas City Chiefs. And with us on the line for a Patriots season preview is Jim McBride. He covers the Pats for The Boston Globe. Thanks for joining us, Jim.
Jim McBride: Thanks for having me.
Barbara Howard: So the Patriots they are riding high. They're coming off their big comeback Super Bowl win last season against the Atlanta Falcons, but quarterback Tom Brady, he is now 40 years old. What can we expect of him?
Jim McBride: I think you’re gonna see the same Tom Brady you've been seeing for the last 17 seasons. Just a guy that really shows no signs of aging. His fire is still there. He's still the guy that's running around practice like he's 23 years old, yelling at teammates, you know congratulating them on things and just, you know, a very consistent leader, and I don't suspect you'll see any drop off at all, even though he's 40. He’s already making it look like the new 30.
Barbara Howard: OK. Well besides Brady, how is the rest of the offense looking? The Patriots are going to be without one of Brady's go to wide receivers. Julian Edelman. Edelman, of course, tore his ACL this pre season. So what's that going to mean?
Jim McBride: [They] kind of look a little different this year. You know, they're going to have more of a vertical threat with Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett on the outside. And you know, speed was an emphasis this off season. So those guys are going to factor heavily in the offense along with Chris Hogan who is going to play a more versatile role, I believe. So I think you're going to see a quicker offense. This team won the Super Bowl last year without Gronk, and he's back, so I think it's a little bit of a different offense in that they're going to struggle to replace Edelman, at first, but I guess you'd say the silver lining of that injury, if there is one, is that it happened early enough in the year that Coach Belichick will be able to figure it out and make up for that production. Where I really think they’ll miss Julian is his kind of fiery attitude in that huddle. You know, other than Brady, that it's kind of a quiet group and Edelman was kind of that spark plug that came in and fired everyone up and kind of trash talked. And there's really not that guy right now, so it'll be interesting to see who emerges as a vocal leader on this offense other than Brady.
Barbara Howard: And the defense, how’s that unit looking. Tell me more about that.
Jim McBride: I think the front seven is kind of a question mark right now. You know, they kind of revamped the defensive position. They let go a couple of guys. I think you might see Dont’a Hightower whose kind of been the mainstay in the middle of this defense playing on the edge more to pressure the quarterback. So I think once they straighten up that front seven, it's going to be a formidable defense. They might take some lumps early on, but I think that like the offense, you're going to see a little difference, but kind of the same result.
Barbara Howard: OK. Well what’s tonight’s opener against the Chiefs? Are the Patriots, are they looking like favorites to you?
Jim McBride: They're definitely the favorites. This team is battle tested. There's a lot of veterans. Kansas City is a very good team. They came on strong last year, but I think for them to come into Foxboro on opening night with the banner going up and the crowd going crazy — it's a tall task, and I think the Patriots, you know, traditionally very strong at home, so they're considered the favorite for a reason because they should win this game.
Barbara Howard: Well looking beyond tonight, though, how do the Patriots stack up against the rest of their division the AFC East?
Jim McBride: Well I think they're once again, the class of the AFC East. I think the Dolphins could give them a run for their money, but I think Buffalo is kind of a rebuilding program, and the Jets are really in shambles once again. So unless something catastrophic happens, you can pencil them in as the AFC East champions.
Barbara Howard: Can you see them doing a repeat? Another Super Bowl championship?
Jim McBride: Yes, absolutely. I know a lot of the talk [at the] beginning of year was, could this team go undefeated? I was never one of those guys. You know after Edelman got hurt, I think that makes the task even that much tougher. But I do think this team is clearly the favorites to get to the Super Bowl, and win it again. There’s some pitfalls in that schedule. But I think they should be favored in every game they play.
Barbara Howard: Well have a good time at the game tonight, Jim.
Jim McBride: Thanks for having me.
Barbara Howard: That's Jim McBride. He covers the Patriots for the Boston Globe the Pats season gets under way tonight as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs at home in Foxborough.