SI's Banks on Pats & future

SI.com's Don Banks, one of our favorite national reporters, pens a piece looking at what's ahead for the Patriots. Banks breaks things down into the following categories:

1. Salary cap

2. Free agency

3. Coaching staff

4. Draft position

5. 2012 schedule

"The Patriots' list of 2012 opponents looks anything but daunting from this vantage point," Banks writes. "New England has just four games against teams that made the playoffs this season, and only one of those, at Baltimore, is on the road. That rematch of the AFC title game will be an obvious highlight of next season, as will home games against NFC title game loser San Francisco, and a Broncos-at-Patriots rematch of this year's AFC divisional-round playoff showdown in Foxboro.

"New England draws the NFC West and AFC South in 2012, and only the 49ers and Texans made this season's playoffs from among those eight teams. In addition, the Patriots will be heading back across the pond to face the Rams in London, and that late October matchup ensures New England a nice early November bye, exactly midway through the regular season."

To read Banks' piece, CLICK HERE.