It has been a bit downhill for the Patriots recently. All seemed to be going well after they beat Baltimore in the 2012 AFC championship after Billy Cundiff “Cundiffed” (missed) a 33 yard field allowing the Patriots to move on to the Super Bowl for a rematch of Super Bowl 42 with the New York Giants. Efforts to avenge that loss 4 years ago fell through as they lost again to the Giants in Super Bowl 46. Last year was in no means a bad season, but the Patriots were huge favorites to beat the Baltimore Ravens in the 2013 AFC Championship like the year before. However, the luck was on the Ravens side as Joe Flacco outplayed Tom Brady for the second straight year and led the Ravens to upset the Patriots and get a birth to the Super Bowl. Since then, the Patriots have seen key players go down to injury, leave for free agency, and, well, Aaron Hernandez. Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots pro bowl TE in the last four months has gotten back surgery and just recently wrist surgery which may keep him out until the season starts. Free agent WRs including pro bowler Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd have left to join other teams. Probably the most startling news the Patriots have received is Aaron Hernandez’s involvement and now arrest for obstruction of justice for a murder he may have had a hand in. As if there wasn’t enough depression in Boston after the Bruins lost a heart breaking game 6 in the Stanley Cup Finals or the fact that Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, and Doc Rivers have all left the Celtics in a matter of 72 hours. The Patriots dampened the mood even more by deciding to officially part ways and release their star TE. Still if you are a Patriots fan there is hope as they still have future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady who is no stranger to carrying a team with little to no weapons at his disposal. That being said, with all the pieces that have left it is hard to think of them as a super bowl contender, at least, for this year especially with the free agency splash the Miami Dolphins made signing most notably Dannell Ellerbe and Mike Wallace. Time will tell how all these factors play out but it looks to be more of a rebuilding year than a contending year for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.