Brady and Belichick are 3-0 in Super Bowls that don’t involve the New York Giants.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:
2011 RECORD – 13-3: There are few players on Earth that could be saddled with one of the worst pass defenses of the NFL’s modern era and still reach the Super Bowl but Tom Brady did just that. While he was off from 2010 MVP form (yes, I’m aware of the 5,235 yards and 39 touchdown passes but I prefer his ’10 season), Brady led the Patriots to another AFC East title and to the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl since he joined the team in 2000. As usual, Brady had plenty of help offensively including Wes Welker (122 catches) and Rob Gronkowski, who took time out of his schedule from taking pics with porn stars, to set NFL records for a tight end with 18 touchdowns. Undoubtedly, New England’s offense would need help from their much-maligned defense. After stinking up Gillette Stadium during a 2010 playoff loss to the Jets, New England ended Denver’s Tebowmania era in the divisional round and then, got not one but two pardons in the last 90 seconds of the AFC title game to reach Super Bowl XLVI. Alas, the goodwill and good fortune ran out on the Patriots against the Giants once more.
LAS VEGAS ODDS TO WIN SUPER BOWL XLVII: 6/1
DON’T TAKE THIS GUY IN YOUR FANTASY DRAFT: Any Patriots runner not named Stevan Ridley. I took Ridley late in a draft on Sunday and was scoffed at for doing so. While slightly over-reactionnary, the chiding was understandable. New England’s leader in career rushing yards is Danny Woodhead…with 962. It appears as if Ridley, who was deactivated for New England’s Super Bowl loss to the Giants, will fill the role of BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He possesses break-free ability but questions surround his ability to protect the ball. Also, New England’s offensive line might get Brady killed this season. If that’s the case, you’ll see more three tight end sets and run game. That’s right. Star Wars Football may be interrupted this season in New England. The problem is New England’s M.O. often resembles that of Mike Shanahan’s recent history with using a buffet-style of runners. Ridley is going to run early and Woodhead is going to be the third-down guy. Since fantasy football people are spastic by nature, few have figured it out.
NOTABLE GAME: December 16 vs. San Francisco – We were a few Kyle Williams’s blunders away from this happening in February. Instead, we’ll get it on Sunday Night Football nine days prior to Christmas. Let’s hope these teams are close to their 2011 form. If so, it should be a fantastic game…and maybe, just maybe a preview of Super Bowl XLVII.
PATRIOT YOU SHOULD FOLLOW ON TWITTER: (TIE) DOUCHY TOM BRADY & COCKY BELICHICK. Since the Patriots likely frown upon their players have a good time on Twitter, we’re trying a different route via a pair of parody accounts.
WHY THEY CAN’T WIN THE SUPER BOWL: Remember Bart Scott’s tirade about New England’s defense not being able to stop a nosebleed? His words held true in 2011. Belichick and his staff did an exceptional job at covering up the team’s greatest weakness in ’11, their putrid secondary. The Pats finished 31st in pass defense last year and entering this year, they enter with some of the same faces that led to their struggles. One trouble spot again appears at cornerback. After a strong ’10 rookie campaign, Devin McCourty regressed and will need to bounce back. New England needs to be competitive in the secondary, which didn’t appear to be the case at times. Through their first seven games last year, only Mark Sanchez failed to throw for at least 300 yards against the Patriots’ woeful gang.
Elsewhere, left tackle Matt Light retired during the offseason and leaves a hole at Brady’s blindside spot. Nate Solder will serve as Light’s replacement but the results in preseason have been sketchy. Right guard Brian Waters is gone (for now) and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is trying to get into the groove. Thus, New England has some work to do on their offensive line.
In today’s NFL, having secondary issues and offensive line problems is a death sentence for Super Bowl contenders. If there is anyone who can work around them, it’s Belichick.
SONG THAT EMBODIES THE 2012 PATRIOTS: LATE IN THE EVENING – PAUL SIMON
I don’t need to remind Patriots fans of this but Tom Brady is 35.
To put things in better perspective, Joe Montana was 33 when he won his fourth Super Bowl. Terry Bradshaw was only 31 when he grabbed his fourth ring. It’s a young man’s game. There isn’t a long track record of quarterbacks winning Super Bowls in their mid-30s.
John Elway won Super Bowls at 37 and 38 but that’s the exception and not the rule.
While we watched Brett Favre finally retire at 41, New England’s window of opportunity with Brady as a premier player is rapidly closing.
If they can fix their pass protection problems and marginally improve their secondary, another Super Bowl appearance is quite doable for the Pats.
They will not exactly see overwhelming competition in the AFC either.
Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Houston pose as their greatest threats. Those squads are just as fatally flawed as the Pats.
However, history says something will block New England’s return to the Super Bowl.
The 1993 Buffalo Bills were the last team to lose a Super Bowl and return to the big stage the following season.