Continuing in this series, I’ve got the next team I think is the most logical choice to win the Super Bowl this season; the New England Patriots.
Now I realize that if your pick before the season started to play in the Super Bowl was New England and Green Bay, well you’re not going out on a limb too far. This is why that wasn’t my original pick. But if you were asking me to give you one today, well that would be it.
Similarly to Green Bay, New England had a rough start to the 2012 season. Starting off 1-2 and then needing overtime to beat a pretty lousy Jets team at home just to get above .500, there were many murmurs of the Patriots window closing. But then they did what the Brady and Belichick teams have done for the last decade and that is put together some streaks.
Winners of eight of their last nine, the Patriots offense is arguably even better than it was in their 16-0 season of 2007 in which they seemed to break a new record each week. Tom Brady has been Tom Brady and if the Patriots offense is clicking, there isn’t a defense in the league that can stop them, as evidenced in their furious comeback effort against the Niners a couple of Sunday’s ago.
So how do they go about winning it all this season? Just keep doing what they’re doing. Their only serious competition in the AFC, Houston and Denver, they’ve beaten soundly at home. However, if the playoffs started today, they’d face the possibility of having to go on the road to beat both of them.
Many think of the Patriots as a dynasty, and it’d be hard to argue against three Super Bowl wins in five appearances during this regime. But when you really start to look at it, New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl in its last seven attempts. Playoff failure is something you don’t hear about much nationally with New England based off of reputation, but they have shown a tendency to get beat over the past seven seasons.
I know just about anyone out there would love to have a team that makes it to the Super Bowl almost every year, but fans in New England are quite frustrated with the Patriots not being able to follow through. It is what has made them a dynasty, but kept them from being one of the all-time greats.
Basically, if there is consistent pressure getting to Tom Brady, he looks more skiddish than ever before in the pocket. However, he still reads a blitz better than arguably any quarterback in the league. He’s shown that more than ever this season en route to yet another consideration for MVP honors. Another 4,500 yard and 30 plus touchdown season with a low number of interceptions for Brady. He makes it look so easy and he has been so consistent with it that many don’t even think about it anymore. But I challenge you to name another quarterback that has been as great, consistently, for as long.
In short, if Brady gets good protection, he has more weapons on offense than he’s ever had. They’ve scored over 500 points this season and are averaging an absurd 35 points per game with an average of 427 yards. Much like Green Bay, their defense only has to be decent to support the juggernaut offense.
After coming within one dropped pass by Wes Welker of winning it all last season, I have to think that the Pats are the favorite to win the AFC this year. In fact, I think they’d be a road favorite in either Denver or Houston. The thing I’ve learned about the Patriots the last decade plus is to never think you’ve got Belichick and Brady figured out. They’re usually much more cleverer than you.