Are The Pats REALLY That Good? (Part 2)

18 12 2007

The PatsOr is the NFL just that bad?
Part 2 (just oh-too-long to have in one piece) of the question on the New England Patriots. Some contention in this response…

Matt – sometime reader, bigtime sportsfan…
G’day folks. My name’s Matt, I’m a copper from Sydney. Are the Pats that good? Hell no.
Looking through Part One of this discussion, it is very hard to argue with the logic presented that the Pat really are just that good. But in the interest of a true discussion, I’ll happily refute this claim.

The Pats last year went within one game of the Superbowl. Arguably, had they beat Indy, they would have won the Superbowl. So what did Belichick do? Set his sights on what he thought he needed to get past Indy, and got them. I’m not going to go through what the rest of the blokes have, but they are a better side this year.
Clearly.

However…
They are not unbeatable, the NFL is not that bad, and they are extremely lucky to still be shooting for the perfect season.
Look at the Ravens game.
Three times on the fourth down of that final drive, the Pats received favourable calls. Now, with what I’m about to say, don’t get upset. But I will throw it out there that the better teams receive many more favourable calls than the not-as-good teams.
I’m not saying its blatant cheating, but more of a subconscious thing on the umps’ part. You know, the old “Meh, the Ravens are last, the Pats are shooting for perfection, I’m not gonna be the one to deny them.”
It happens.
I’m an Aussie, love rugby league.
It happens in the NRL, and after the Ravens game, I’m sure it happens in the NFL.

So the Pats got home. Just. Against the Ravens. A team currently propping up the rear end of their division.
I got to watch this game, and thoroughly believe the Ravens were robbed. Some may say good teams make their own luck, but come on. The Pats are lucky to still be up for perfection.
I have no doubt that Brady is the best QB. He’s a freak to watch. But I don’t think he is that far above that he renders his side unbeatable. As Manning showed last year, he can beat him in a shoot out.
Indy overall are also a better side than last year. The margin last game was 4 points – and could have gone either way, obviously. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Indy might have been a few short. Clearly, the Pats are not that far ahead of the pack.

Run that ball…Without a doubt, they have racked up some massive scores. In some cases, this has been condemned as unsporting. This does suggest that other dominant sides may have just employed the old mercy rule on their opposition.
Not the Pats.
They are ruthless, and like one bloke [editor’s note: Rob] said, they have their opponents scared to actually beat them. The Ravens got close; they held their nerve up until the final drive, where they left their game plan for one minute, and the class of Brady got the Pats home. A team more complete will not let this happen.
If they do go on to win the Superbowl undefeated, they will go down as the best team in history.
But… remember, that’s an “if”, not a “when”. This season is far from done and dusted. I believe the Ravens have set the game plan to beat the Pats; it’s up to a more complete side to effectively carry it out.
Besides, the Pats play my boys – the Giants – in the last round.
So they have no chance of going perfect. 😉

DmtShooter Five Tool Tool
One of the things that no one talks about when assessing the Patriots is that they have benefited from a pretty fortunate schedule — one that has made them look even better than they are. Let’s go through this on a week by week basis.
Week 1 – A terrible Jets team
Week 2 – An erratic Chargers team in complete early season Norv meltdown
Week 3 – A Bills team that’s played their worst football against them
Week 4 – A Bengals team that really should have gotten Marvin Lewis fired by now
Week 5 – A Browns team that stayed with them pretty well, but gave up points late on offense
Week 6 – Dallas on the road, their first real good opponent
Week 7 – Miami, and enough said
Week 8 – Washington, another below .500 team
Week 9 – Colts, in Indy, their second solid win, but one where they were down 10 in the fourth
Week 11 – Buffalo, who just rolled over and died
Week 12 – Philadelphia, who nearly won with their backup QB and a mess of turnovers
Week 13 – Baltimore, who really did get robbed
Week 14 – Pittsburgh, third very good win
(To be played – Jets, Dolphins, Giants. Not exactly murderer’s row.)

New England DominanceSo in those 13 wins to date, they’ve beaten teams with a record of 81-73… but only three teams (Dallas, Indy and Pittsburgh) that were playing well when they ran into the Juggernaut. It also needs to be noted that they ran into the Colts without Marvin Harrison, the Eagles without Donovan McNabb, and the Steelers without Troy Polamalu — all of whom could have made big differences in those games.

Now, the schedule you have is the only one you can play. The Pats have already beaten the defending champion and presumptive NFC champion, along with the division champs of every AFC division. No one ever talks about how easy the ’72 Dolphins schedule was, either.

But there’s something to be said about the cupcake appeal of a division that has two historically bad teams in it, and a third that has been absolutely helpless against you. As I write this, the AFC East is a net -6 in points… and that’s with the Pats being +281. The only other division that’s negative in the AFC is the West.

If they win out, you have to call them the best. If they someone spit the bit in the regular season but win in the playoffs, they’re a top 5 to 10 team, along with the ’85 Bears, some of those Niner teams, a Steeler team or two, etc.

And if they lose in the playoffs? Them they are just another fair-weather team, one that compiled a ton of passing numbers that covered for a weak defense and a lack of confidence in the running game. You know, like those Colts teams… that the Patriots beat in the playoffs. (And yes, I’ve just pointed out Pats’ Fan’s biggest fear, right after Brady getting hurt.)

Tony RiazziRivalfish
My opinion on this is that it’s a little of both.
The Pats are solid, no doubt.
Their offense is an absolute machine, best in the league by a long shot, but not the most balanced obviously. They don’t run the ball because they don’t have to, but there will come a time in the playoffs that they’re going to need Maroney to show up and their under-utilizing him now is definitely not a good idea.
In fact, it could well bite them in the ass eventually, maybe not fatally, but it is a weakness.

If you bring Harrison back to Indianapolis’ roster, then it’s they that actually have the best, most complete offense.
But… the Patriots have enough weapons that they can put up 40 on anyone.
Another issue is that they are getting old on defense – or more specifically their linebackers. They’re big and slow and they can be a liability in pass coverage, whether it’s getting matched up on a wideout or a tight end… or if they have to pick up a back out of the backfield.
This was something Addai badly exposed in the game versus the Colts.

versus the RavensAdditionally they can be run on… but for some reason teams don’t stick with it, a lot of times probably because they’re down by 21 so fast that they don’t have a chance to.
The Ravens ran the ball down their throat and had – thus far – the best chance of beating them.
As soon as they put the ball in the air with Boller when they didn’t have to, they let the Pats back into it.

In spite of this, the NFL as a whole is pretty mediocre. I love the league, and probably spend too much goddamn time watching it… but there are now an astounding number of teams that are unwatchable – most of the NFC in fact.
Most Divisions are already decided. The ones that aren’t are still open because everybody in the division’s so bad. No team’s better proof of that than the Chargers. The fact that they’ve been as bad as they have and that they still lead their division is not a testament to their heart, or how hard they’ve fought to get back into contention – it’s merely confirmation of how completely pathetic their division is. It’s no surprise how easily they can walk through a lamentable slate of division games.
The only win the Chargers have had that’s been worth anything at all is that over the Colts, and that was a complete and total fluke.

There are 4 great teams this year. The Pats, Cowboys, Colts, and the Packers.
The Steelers lost their chance to be called a contender. When you go on the road and lose to Denver, then the abysmal JETS… then get smashed by the Patriots in game you should have been able to put up your absolute best effort… then you don’t deserve serious consideration.
I will be shocked if the Conference championship games are not the top two teams on each side that I mentioned.
They’re the best teams, and everyone else is just playing out the season.

DCScrapEpic Carnival
I think it’s a combination of both.
Tom Brady There is no doubt that the Patriots have a load of weapons on offense. Donte Stallworth, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Maroney, Watson, Brady, et al are more than more teams could dream to have at their disposal.
But also it seems like the talent pool in the NFL has gotten smaller in recent years. Take the NFC for example. Other than Dallas and Green Bay, it’s pretty desolate. And I am not even sure whether they are good or the NFC is just worse than I thought.
One thing that might be getting overlooked because of all the skill weapons the Pats have is the fact that they have a tremendous offensive line and a group that has spent many years together for the most part.
It really all begins there.
The Colts had it in 2006 and the Pats have that in 2007. Without that it doesn’t matter how good a quarterback you are.
So I guess my answer is that the Pats are really just that good.

Don – With Malice…
Hard to offer something of worth after all that’s been said. There have been a heap of excellent responses, and by folks far more knowledgeable than I in the realm of the NFL… but I’ll try.
I think that the New England Patriots have been flattered by a weak-ish schedule & an NFL wrought with teams that are awful.

They’ve also played with a chip on their shoulder, and a mercenary attitude that we’ve not seen before with a leading NFL team.
In past times, scores haven’t been run up, not necessarily as a courtesy to weaker opponents – but using the buffer to rest starters, and blood less experienced players. This New England team have not done this, they’ve kept their starters in, and thankfully – at least from their perspective – they haven’t had an injury to either Brady or Moss. They’ve been lucky in that regard.

More NETheir schedule is blessed by residing in the AFC East. A veritable junkyard of hack-teams. That the Bills are the second best team is proof enough of the dismal quality of the AFC East. If not for the Pats, it could well be called the worst in the NFL. The Bills are flattered by a .500 record, attained only because the Jets and Dolphins are bad in a truly historic way.
Of the other teams on their schedule, only Indianapolis and Dallas are truly ‘good’. Pittsburgh are close, but no cigar. The Patriots close with Miami (again), and NY Giants – who are at best a middling team (sorry Matt).

The NFL have to be happy. If not for the glorious achievements of the New England Patriots, then maybe the public realises that there’s a whole lotta polish ‘n’ spin on a large number of teams out there who are less than average. New England’s feat has everyone else focused on the right hand, whilst the left hand works the illusion. The NFL has damn happy, and keen to keep the public focused on this historical season, and the media oblige.

Given there are still 2 games left in the regular season (unlikely they’ll lose), then the finals (could be interesting), there’s still a chance they may not complete a perfect season.
But it’s looking likely.
Even with this likelihood completed, I don’t see them as ‘best ever’. I think the points I’ve discussed flatter them.
Good, damn good… but the NFL itself has created this juggernaut.
Closing – yes, the Pats are good, but the NFL is that bad.

I guess we wait now, and watch. Like everybody.

Bill & Boys…

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4 responses

18 12 2007
Aaron Becker

The Fuzz is in town ;~) The Pats are that good, but even if they do go unbeaten, I wouldn’t put em as the best ever*, as that’s hard enough to argue as it is. This is the only time they’ve played dominant when compared to their past 3 Super Bowl teams. But I also think it’s no coincidence that the record they will end up breaking (for pts scored), was Randy Moss’s Viking team back in ’98.

* I would pit the freakin Dallas teams from the 90’s better than the Pats – that offensive line just mowed teams down by the 4th qtr

20 12 2007
kip

My tip has been Dallas all along

New England, Green Bay and Indianpolis are dangerous

kip

20 12 2007
Matt

Don’t discount the Chargers either. They are in some decent form, and will have learnt from last year… hopefully.

1 01 2008
He’ll Be Watching… « With Malice…

[…] Be Watching… 1 01 2008 One of the guys (Matt) who participated in the Are The Pats REALLY That Good? discussion wrote the following […]

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