So here we go again….. the Ravens take another trip into Foxboro to play the Patriots. We will see how the Pats respond without Moss. We also will be interested how awful Brady’s hair looks this week . Anyway, special thanks to Bruce Allen at the Patriots Daily for his input. Enjoy!

What role with Brandon Tate and the other young receivers play in the Randy Moss-less passing game? Is there a potential star or will this be more like the Patriots offense of the early 2000’s?
Tate will serve as a nominal deep threat, certainly not on the level of Moss, but he’s got the speed to get down field. Overall you’re likely to see something closer to the “dink-and-dunk” West-coast style offense that was so successful early in the decade. Tate and Julian Edelman are developing receivers, while Welker and Deion Branch will likely get the most attention from opposing defenses. The wildcard is rookie “tight end” Aaron Hernandez, who is a tight end in name only. He’s really a big receiver in the Dallas Clark mold. He is a potential star.

Where is the Patriots franchise right now? Are they positioning themselves for another period of greatness or have they settled in as just another AFC contender?
They’re rebuilding – on the fly. They’re attempting to completely rebuild this team without taking that giant step back. If you look at the roster, it’s completely different from even two seasons ago. Look at the defense – out of 11 spots, they’re starting 7 guys with three or less years of experience. Couple that with two picks each in the first, second and third round next April, and there is a full-fledged rebuilding effort going on here. The hope is to let Brady and the offense carry things for a year or two, and then begin another period where they are a top team. They’re not there right now, I’d hesitate to call them a “contender” right now. Playoff team, possibly. Contender, probably not.

The defense this season, with the exception of a great showing against Miami, seems pretty shaky at times. What happened?
See above. The defensive struggles are for all the right reasons – youth and inexperience. So many young guys on that side of the ball. I expect to see improvement as the season goes on. In the meantime, the shift in the offense with Moss gone was likely an effort to boost the time-of-possession for the offense, thus keeping the young defense off the field more. There’s talent on defense -a ton of first and second-round picks on that unit, players like Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Ron Brace and Darius Butler are all learning on the job – and taking their lumps in the process. They’ll get better.

Is this the Pats team that beat the Ravens last October or the one that lost to the Ravens in the playoffs?
In many ways, neither. There was a bit of a cleansing in the offseason, some bad attitudes in the locker room were cleared out, more talent was brought in via the draft, especially at the tight end position, and Wes Welker is here for this one, having missed the game in January. The defense is probably a bit worse than that team in January, which is a scary thought, but the offense has been better. With so much no personnel on both sides of the ball, you can’t compare this team to either game last season. This we do know: the Patriots might be three-point favorites at the moment, but the Ravens are the much better team right now.

Is there a sense of revenge for what happened last January? Are Pats fans mad about the after-party at Gillette?
I haven’t seen anything about revenge, I think it’s more about not getting embarrassed again. They know the Ravens are good, and don’t want to get smacked around at home again. No one has talked about payback or revenge, just about getting better. As far as the fans, I haven’t heard a single one complain about the Ravens behavior after the playoff win. After that domination, they deserved to celebrate in any fashion they chose. If anyone is talking revenge or being mad about the celebration, it’s idiots in the media.

EC- Tom Brady’s hair is ridiculous. At what point did he turn from a go-getter to a diva?
The hair is ugly, no doubt about it. I hate it. But if you mean he’s turned into a diva in the sense of Terrell Owens or Brandon Marshall, that’s not true. His hair may have changed, but he hasn’t. He’s still the same hard-working, humble, well-spoken guy that we’ve seen for the last nine seasons. No doubt Giselle has all the influence over his appearance, but not on his work ethic. Mock him at your own risk.