Too early to talk about undefeated Pats

Too early to talk about undefeated Pats

Everyone is very excited about the New England Patriots’ start to the 2007 season. Last Monday, during their game against the Cincinnati Bengals on ESPN, Tony Kornheiser even started talking about breaking the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ perfect season record.

Woah. Woah, woah. Let’s take a breath here.

Every year around the fourth game, people start getting breathless about one or more of the undefeated teams. And let’s point out that the Patriots are just one of several undefeated teams, including the Colts, the Cowboys, and the Packers. And every year all that hype is for naught when the “chosen team” falters around the 10th or 11th game.

Let’s look at some facts first. All of the teams that the Patriots have faced so far have a record of 1-3. So far the first four teams they’ve played have been pretty bad. Now some, including my brother-in-law Peter, might say that’s because the Patriots have exposed their weaknesses for other teams to exploit, but the explanation gets weaker every week. How to explain the Bengals two losses before they faced the Pats?

Now, I’m not saying the Patriots aren’t awesome this year with their high-flying passing offense. What I am saying is that’s way to early to start talking about undefeated, perfect seasons. Frankly, I’d settled for 10-6, winning the division, the conference, and the Super Bowl. That’s the goal after all, isn’t it?

After the Cleveland Browns (2-2) this week, the Pats fly to Dallas to face the 4-0 Cowboys, then hapless 0-4 Miami, the 2-1 Redskins, and the 4-0 Colts. If the Pats are still undefeated in a month, then we can start talking about undefeated seasons, but until then, let’s just enjoy the games.

  • The Pats are on fire, but nobody should be talking about the ‘72 Dolphins after four games.  More to the point, it’s a tremendous risk to lash your team to a meaningless regular season record if it leaves you broken down for the playoffs.  The Red Wings learned this in the 1996 season:  Highest regular season win total in NHL history, out in the Conference Finals.  Next year, runner up in the division, but Stanley Cup Champion.

    Belichick could care less about the ‘72 Dolphins.  The goal is the Bowl.

    Unless you’re a Lions fan, in which case the goal is to not be a Leno/Letterman punchline.

  • Anybody else notice that Coach Bill did not become a “genius” until Drew Bledsoe got injured and replaced by Brady?

    This team is spectacular, true, but keep in mind that Tom Terrific has not missed a game due to injury since the 2001 AFC Championship, which Bledsoe won for them.

    They do not have a reliable back up . . . at least not one who has been tested.

  • As a Miami fan, don’t overlook them.  The Pats will likely trounce them in their first meeting.  However, towards the end of the season when they play again, (not sure what week) if they are still undefeated, the Dolphins will just have to defend the team’s history and honor and get the job done themselves. wink  OK, I really, really hope it doesn’t come down to that scenario, but not so good Dolphin teams have beaten very good New England teams before.  It could happen.

  • I’ve been a Giants fan for many years, and I knew a long time ago that Belichick is the best strategist in the NFL (why Ray Handley got to replace Parcells as the Giants’ coach is still beyond me… that was the Giants dumbest mistake since letting offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi and defensive coordinator Tom Landry fly the coop in 1959!).

    The Patriots are very, very good- but I don’t see them going 16-0 for several reasons:

    1) They play in a horrible division, which means they’ll probably have first place and home field advantage wrapped up early. If they’re 13-0 and have home field sewn up, do you REALLY think they’ll keep playing their starters? Will they have the same fire as usual? What if they’re playing a 7-6 team that NEEDS a win to stay in wild card contention- who’ll be hungrier then?

    2) To go 16-0, you need to be LUCKY as well as good. If Tom Brady breaks his leg and is out for the season (these things happen- ask Joe Theismann), then what? (Same thing if the Colts lose the seemingly indestructible Peyton Manning.)

    3) Emotion matters in the NFL. Seriously, it matters even more than in college. And it’s HARD to stay pumped up every week for 16 weeks. When you’re looking ahead to a big game against a major rival, you’re liable to be flat the week before (that happened to both the Texas Longhorns AND the Oklahoma Sooners the week before their annual showdown) or even the week after.

    Of course, it’s NOT Belichick or the Pats who have been talking about an undefeated season- it’s the media. Just remember that the SAME idiots talking about a 16-0 record now will undoubtedly be panicking and asking, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE PATRIOTS” if they lose a few close games late in the season and finish “only” 12-4.