Poetic justice

Poetic justice

imageYesterday’s Patriots’ win over the Buffalo Bills was poetic, right down to the same score, 31-0, they were on losing end of back in September. Back then, after the first game, there was gloating and I-told-you-so’s, and that was just on this blog. Everyone thought the Bills were the team to beat while the Pats were headed for the cellar. Not so. This team is better than that. And yesterday’s game was the period on that sentence.

The New England Patriots are the best team in the NFL right now. They may not have the individual superstars the other teams have, but what they do have is great coaching and great players who work together selflessly toward a single goal, not individual achievement, but team superiority. That superiority is symbolized by the Lombardi Trophy and Super Bowl rings. And they’re not going to let up until they have both of those in their hands again.

Image Credit

  • bruschi.jpg: Unknown | Copyright by owner. Used under Fair Use doctrine
  • At the risk of being the Mr. Hanky in the punch bowl, Dom, I think the Patriots are vulnerable. Yes, they’ll have home field, but I don’t think any of the other AFC playoff teams (except Indoor Indy) will be as uncomfortable as, say Oakland or Miami were or Tampa Bay or some others would be. In addition, the Patriots’ greatest weakness is run defense, and the AFC playoffs have no shortage of punishing backs with the potential to dominate a game—Priest Holmes (27 TDs), Jamal Lewis (2050 yards), even a healthy Edgerrin James or Eddie George (and while the latter two are not quite as good as the first two, they also play on teams with far better QBs/passing games). In other words, I think the AFC playoffs are wide open, and I’d pick at least four of the teams—NE, KC, Indy and Tenn—over any NFC team. And Denver and Baltimore aren’t half-bad either.

  • Victor,

    Time to re-look at those stats. The Patriots have the third-best run defense in the league and have only allowed one 100+ yard rusher all season, Denver’s Clinton Portis. Those without 100 yards rushing against the Pats include Eddie George, Edgerrin James, and Ricky Williams (twice).

    The Pats are undefeated at home and in six home games since Oct 5 have allowed only one touchdown, 19 total points. This is not the 2001 Super Bowl Patriots who had a weak run defense. This time their whole defense is clicking and may be the stingiest since the 1985 Bears.

  • Don’t forget that when the team had a lot of injuries earlier this year—not the least Ted Washington in the center of the defensive line, Mike Vrabel, Troy Brown, Rosevelt Colvin, David Patten and others—the Pats still managed to beat playoff-bound teams. On the other hand, if Tom Brady or Adam Vinatieri get hurt, then the Pats really will be in a world of hurt.

    Belichick’s genius is that he has built a defense that doesn’t depend on any one player. If one goes down, the backups are nearly as good, or at least the backup schemes.

  • Dale,

    I’ll grant that the Pats running game has been quiet, but Antwain Smith is a cold weather running back and has come on in December. The offensive line, for the past three games, is opening up a hole for Smith and he’s getting into the secondary and running over people. Plus, the Pats three running backs have had 100+ yard games in most of the games this season.

    Of their whole team, their whole game, the running game is the least of them all (although punting is a worse problem), but I don’t think it’s enough to give me pause.

    Just looking at the rest of the playoff teams, none of them went into the post-season in an inspiring manner. Lots of injuries, lots of guys sitting out the last game to avoid aggravating injuries, dumb losses to teams they should have beat. Only the Pats went roaring into the playoffs.

  • GOR,

    That Packers win over the Raiders was great. Favre’s first half was probably one of the best first halves by a quarterback I’ve ever seen. His passes were bullets, threading between multiple defenders to the receiver. I think the NFC playoff teams are fairly weak this year and I expect that it will be Philly, St. Louis, or Green Bay in the Super Bowl.

    (Did I mention that it was especially sweet seeing the Raiders go down? They have the most obnoxious fans in the league.)

  • Dom:

    Ooops … mental burp. The stat that was running around in my head (and since cited by others) was that the Pats have one of the worst rush *offenses* in the league … the rest of the post was just running with that, so to speak. Moral: Do not post at 4 am under the influence of intoxicating beverages. I stand by my point though that the AFC is wide open, there are just so many great teams and great players that win a game all by themselves (remember Anthony Carter beating the invincible 49ers basically single-handedly—that’s the scenario I can see).

    Anyhoo … *bump* to Dale for mentioning the most inexplicable, devastating loss of the season (not Minnesota … though the particular way they lost was unforgettable, the loss itself was not really *that* surprising), but the St. Louis Rams. They should have had the attitude that this was a playoff game because they’re so good at home and so mediocre away. And to lose to the Detroit fricking Lions?!?!?! I think they blew their Super Bowl chance cause there’s no way that track-meet offense of theirs wins on grass, outdoors, in January, in Philadelphia. I’d say the Eagles are overwhelming favorites to win the NFC (I can only see a divinely-blessed Pack On A Mission beating them).

  • Let’s see, the NFL has a team called the Saints … who missed the playoffs and have mostly stunk for 35 years. I guess the Almighty *doesn’t* take an interest in the doings of the NFL. Though maybe He took an interest in baseball in 2002.