Saturday, January 12, 2008

On The Verge

I take a slightly different view than the Conventional Wisdom about the New England Patriots after tonight's victory over Jacksonville. Even if they lose next week to Indianapolis or San Diego, they are still among the ten greatest teams of all time. If they win next week, they are arguably the greatest team ever even if they do not win the Super Bowl. I would defer without argument to someone who preferred the '85 Bears or the Joe Montana 49er's, but no others. And I would still believe a case could be made that the Patriots are better than those teams, even without the championship. 17-0 is simply that remarkable and unusual, and 18-0 that much more.

Snide remarks have been made about the supposed weakness of New England's schedule, because of their weak division. But they have played and beaten the following playoff teams: San Diego, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Washington, New York, and Dallas. Additionally, they beat Cleveland and near-miss Philadelphia. The only playoff teams they have not beaten this year are Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee, all of which have been eliminated, and Green Bay.

I am still worried about the defense, especially the competent but aging, and thus slower, linebackers. Special teams have been solid but not dramatic. Every team from here on in is excellent. There seems to have been a general dropoff since mid-season. Maybe teams are adjusting. Maybe there are injuries that are hidden (Bellichik is notorious for screwing with the injury report). But the Pats already have the greatest offense in the history of the game, come what may, and deserve to be discussed among the best.

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