Dec 30, 2007

Photo courtesy of Tom Croke/Icon SMI

The New England Patriots finished the season undefeated.  A cool gesture would be the ’73 Dolphins sending their champagne to New England to welcome them to the Undefeated Club.  Judging by their comments, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.

The Patriots became the highest scoring team in NFL history.  Tom Brady became the first QB to throw fifty touchdowns.  Randy Moss scored the most receiving touchdowns in NFL history, although Jerry Rice did his damage in 12 games.  One would think that the Patriots would just roll on to their fourth Super Bowl victory of the decade given their regular season success.

Not so fast.  Indianapolis hung with them without some of their top weapons.  Philadelphia pushed them to the limit.  Baltimore proved this team is capable of being beat.  The Giants looked on pace to ruin the perfect season until Eli Manning became, well, Eli Manning. 

The formula is out there.  Strong running game and a strong pass rush is what it will take to beat the Patriots.  Jacksonville is the media’s pick as the team to take them down.  Their rushing attack is lights out, and their defense is tough.  David Garrard is proving to be a solid leader at QB.  I just don’t know if they have the experience it will take to derail Tom Brady and the Pats.  San Diego certainly can put pressure on the Patriots with LaDainian Tomlinson.  Judging by Philip Rivers immaturity against Denver, I’m not sure he has what it takes to lead the way.  Plus, Shawn Merriman isn’t nearly as dominating as last year.  Without Willie Parker, I don’t think the Steelers can knock off the Pats.  Cleveland or Tennessee probably won’t even get the chance as they’ll get rolled on in the first round of the playoffs.  So, who does that leave?  The defending Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts.  Losing Dwight Freeney hurts.  He single-handedly can throw off a QB’s rhythm.  The Colts have been overlooked all year by the Patriots.  I’m sure that Peyton Manning has that stored somewhere in the back of his brain, which he’ll use to motivate himself when the powerhouses collide.  Joseph Addai is more than capable of moving the chains.  With the weapons they possess, they are capable of scoring with New England.  It will likely come down to who has the ball in their hands at the end of the game.  I’m not saying the Colts will beat the Patriots, but I’m saying they can. 

The perfect season will be ruined by a letdown in the playoffs.  Good thing for Patriots fans, Tom Brady knows that.  They’ll be tough to top.  Just don’t go Denny Green and “crown their ass” just yet.  There is a long road ahead of them.

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