New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended the first four games of the upcoming NFL season as part of the "deflate scandal," and The Patriots will also have to forfeit two draft picks and pay up $1 million.

Brady will miss games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Dallas Cowboys. He will return in Week 6 against, ironically, the Indianapolis Colts.

In addition to the loss of Brady, the Patriots will be without a number of key players from last season. Notable players such as Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Vince Wilfork are no longer on the roster. Those three players played a huge role in the team's success last season en route to a Super Bowl championship.

Losing Revis and Browner is a huge blow. The Patriots probably made a wise decision not to opt in or give Revis a new contract worth $40 million, but to lose Browner on top of that could be devastating for the Patriots secondary. Browner is a big physical player who intimidates opposing wide receivers. Although he gets penalized quite a bit, he makes up for it with his coverage skills.

Even with Browner and Revis together last season, the Patriots pass defense ranked 17th overall in yards allowed. Imagine without both of them this season. So much pressure will now fall on Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, who is entering just his second season. Fortunately for the Patriots, they did re-sign safety Devin McCourty.

The last time Brady didn't start Week 1 for the Patriots was in 2001 when Drew Bledsoe was under center. That squad went on to win it all. The Patriots have fared pretty well without Brady in the Bill Belichick era. In 2008 Matt Cassel led the Patriots to an 11-5 record.

It's also worth noting that running back LeGarrette Blount is suspended for the first game of the season against the Steelers.

Another huge (no pun intended) loss for the Patriots was Vince Wilfork. Wilfork is one of the best run stopping defensive tackles in NFL history, and he was the team's defensive captain. Wilfork may not make huge plays or record a lot of sacks, but he stops the run. For statistical perspective, last season the Patriots run defense ranked No. 9 in the NFL with Wilfork playing all 16 games. In 2013 Wilfork played just four games, and the Patriots rush defense ranked 30th overall.

One could make the argument that Patriots have lost their three most valuable defenders from last season. The Patriots also didn't make many loud offseason moves to enhance their defense because of salary cap restrictions. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins all improved.

The Patriots still have one of the linebacking cores in the league, and they'll be counted on big time in 2015. More than likely Jimmy Garoppolo will get the four starts. Garoppolo is a former second round pick, so he does have some potential. It will be interesting to see how he performs this upcoming year.

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