Summer to Winter in Patriots Nation

According to many in Patriots Nation, the season of fall is going to be skipped this year.  There is no need for Halloween candy.  Forget about watching any games on Thanksgiving before and after dinner.  Instead, we’re moving straight from summer to winter.  The regular season games this year are unnecessary.  It’s over.  The Patriots are your #1 seed in the AFC and are representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.  There is no second team.  There is no threat.

So, how did this all happen so suddenly, you ask?  The Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 40-32 in Week 2 of the NFL season.  Repeat: The Buffalo Bills.  This is the same Buffalo Bills team that has not made the playoffs in over 15 years.  These are the same Buffalo Bills that have had more than six wins once in the past six seasons.  These are the same Buffalo Bills that still do not have a quarterback who is capable of leading them to contention.  It doesn’t take much nowadays to punch the Patriots a ticket to the big game.  All it takes is a win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 2.

The Super Bowl talk will continue at least for the next few weeks.  The Pats are likely to prevail easily over the Jaguars on Sunday.  Tom Brady will likely have another big game and the MVP talk will no only be debated, but it will be close to finalized in New England.  16-0 talk?  Get ready for that as well over the next couple of weeks.

The Pats also will likely take care of business after the bye week against the Cowboys considering they won’t have Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.  From there, there will be some tougher competition including the Colts and Broncos on the road.  It looks like the Jets may end up being more of a threat than they usually are, but it’s tough to say after just two weeks.  We will likely find out more about the Pats chances as the competition outside of the division strengthens.

The Patriots clearly are the favorites to win the AFC as of right now.  As it was noted in Sunday’s post, the AFC East is weak again and the Patriots will likely prevail.  The conference is a different story.  There are proven winners who are legitimate threats including the Ravens, Steelers, and Broncos.  The Patriots look great.  However, what does that really mean after two weeks?  The Seahawks are 0-2.  Does that mean they aren’t a contender this year?  The reality is these first two games mean very little in terms of where the team will be towards the end of this season.

Offensively, the team looks outstanding.  Brady has played at an elite level.  Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman have been uncoverable.  Dion Lewis has been a pleasant surprise as well.  Brady threw the ball 59 times on Sunday.  He put up huge numbers.  The Pats abandoned the run because they didn’t feel like there was a need to run the ball.  However, none of this means that the Patriots will be in the Super Bowl.

Consider this: The Patriots currently are giving up 5.7 yards per carry on defense.  They are ranked last in the NFL.  Has there ever been a team that ranked last against the run that already punched a Super Bowl ticket after Week 2?  There appear to be a lot of holes on this defense both up front and in the secondary.  They have been exposed.  Yet, these points are frequently ignored because the Patriots have Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.  Simply put, this is not a Super Bowl defense right now.  Can it evolve into a Super Bowl defense?  Yes, absolutely.  There is talent there.  It’s likely that they will improve and be a middle of the pack defense.  However, it is unlikely that their defense will be as good as it was last year considering the loss of Darrelle Revis, Vince Wilfork, and Brandon Browner.  Revis, in particular, was a difference maker last year in terms of putting the Patriots over the top.

There has become somewhat of an arrogant mindset in Patriots Nation since the Patriots won the Super Bowl and went through the Deflategate saga.  It’s with both the fans and the actual team.  It was evident on Sunday when the Patriots tried to run up the score.  The Pats have taken the offensive approach of the team that Patriots Nation ridiculed 10 years ago.  Remember the Colts back then?  Peyton Manning would put up the big stats, they didn’t run the ball, and they had a weak defense.  Patriots Nation laughed off all of Peyton Manning’s big numbers when the Colts ran up the score.  Ten years later, the Patriots are doing the exact same thing!  It’s no longer about doing what’s in the best interest of the team offensively.  It’s about winning, but it’s about winning a way that records can be set and taking every opportunity to shove it in the face of the opposition.  It was evident that they were looking to run up the score and improve Brady’s stat line on Sunday.  It almost backfired.

Before we put the Patriots in the Super Bowl, let’s consider the following points:

1.  Going into this season, there were six starting quarterbacks over the age 35 in the NFL.  After two games, three of them have already been injured.  These QB’s include Josh McCown, Tony Romo, and Drew Brees.  The three quarterbacks who are still healthy are Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, and Brady.  Do we think Manning and Palmer are going to play a full season?

How about Brady?

There is still a mindset that Tom Brady is exempt from aging in New England.  There was an actual story just yesterday about how Brady likely isn’t going to play until he’s 50.  No kidding!  He’s 38 years old.  The other quarterbacks around his age are not playing full seasons.  Granted, Brady’s injury history is much better than some of these quarterbacks which may give him an advantage.  However, it’s a natural progression for aging players.  It’s a point that he is 38 years old and history shows that players at this age normally aren’t able to sustain a high level of play because their bodies simply can’t handle it.  If he were to miss games, the Super Bowl hopes fade quickly.

One last point on this:  Given Brady’s age and overall importance to the team, does it really make sense to have him dropping back to pass 59 times in a game that the Patriots had full control over in the second half?

2.  Rob Gronkowski and Julien Edelman have combined for a total of three full seasons in their NFL careers.  Gronkowski has two and Edelman has one.  If either of these players were to miss games, would it change the opinion about the Patriots Super Bowl chances?

The point here is that injuries are a major factor to any team’s success.  Just look at the Cowboys.  Two plays have changed the scope of their entire season.  It can happen to any team.

3.  The first two games of the season mean very little.  In fact, remember how Patriots Nation felt about the team after the Week 4 loss against Kansas City last year?  Things are going to change.  Teams will emerge in the AFC and the Patriots will have some threats.  It’s likely not going to be the walk in the park that is being discussed this week.

The Patriots are the best team in the AFC after Week 2.  That’s a good thing.  Brady looks great and he could very well lead them to another championship.  They are the favorites right now.

Can we please watch the team evolve over the next 15 weeks before purchasing tickets to Santa Clara?

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