(Image Via Bleacher Report)
“Toss to White…and he’s in the Patriots win the Super Bowl, Brady has his fifth!” This was the quote from the touchdown that won the New England Patriots their fifth Superbowl in franchise history, while also cementing Tom Brady as an all-time great football player. To New England fans it seems in life three things are certain; life, death, and the Patriots in the playoffs. The Patriots have built a model of consistency in the NFL, they have made the playoffs every year since 2009, and have made the playoffs fourteen times since their first Super Bowl in 2001 (missing in the playoffs in 2002, and 2008 when Tom Brady went down with a torn ACL). For all intensive purposes, fans of other teams root for their respective teams, and anybody that can beat the New England Patriots. They have been able to carve out a villain role in the NFL, regardless of people hating them for past scandals or consistent excellence.
This off season has been somewhat uncanny of the Patriots, but all while improving the best team the NFL has to offer. Additions in free agency such as Stephon Gilmore, Rex Burkhead, and Lawrence Guy all fill needs for the Patriots. With the front office expecting to lose Logan Ryan and LeGarrette Blount, they replaced them, with new young talent. That being said Blount isn’t definitely gone, contract talks have just made minimal progress. On a side note, the Patriots dealing of the Malcolm Butler situation has made no progress and is leading a lot of experts to think that Butler will most likely sign his first round tender, keeping him in New England as a RFA alongside Gilmore. They did not stop however, as they acquired more talent(via trade) in the forms of Dwayne Allen, Brandin Cooks, and Kony Ealy. All of these additions leaves New England fans having high hopes for another Super Bowl push in the coming season, and there is no reason to not be in contention, let alone winning the Super Bowl.
So, why do I believe there is no reason for the Patriots to not repeat as Super Bowl Champs? It’s very simple.
For starters, the AFC East. Since 2002 the Patriots have never been swept by a divisional opponent, not surprising to many people. Since 2001, the Patriots have lost the division twice. Once was in a weak AFC East in 2002, which saw the Jets win with a 9-7 record, and in 2008, when Brady went down with a serious ACL injury, and saw the Dolphins win the division at 11-5. The Patriots have dominated the AFC East for years, expect nothing else this year, despite the Dolphins making the playoffs last season.
Next, the rest of the AFC. Out west you have the Raiders and the Chiefs (I’m excluding the Broncos due to the fact that they’re run game is inconsistent, same with the QB play, and their defense isn’t getting any better). The Raiders were in the mix until Carr went down, and while Carr may be heading toward “elite” status, one season doesn’t make you great. The Chiefs have been a lock for a second round playoff loss for the last couple of years, and expect nothing short of that this season with an all around aging organization.
The AFC South is the laughing stock of the AFC, the Texans were able to squeak it out last year due to Tom Savage’s play at the end of the season. The Colts have way to many wholes, specifically the entire offensive line. The Titans are a fun team to watch but still need growth, and I would not expect the same kind of production from DeMarco Murray. Somehow the Jags make great signings every year and still can not get to 8-8 level play.
The AFC North has seen a pitiful Bengals and Browns team. The kryptonite of New England in the form of the Baltimore Ravens, who don’t have the Ray Lewis defense anymore thus I’m not worried. All that leaves is Pittsburgh, the only team that can stop the Patriots from ruling the Iron Throne that is the AFC for yet another year. Dominated by Bell and Brown, the Steelers defense is of question, and I’m worried about QB as Big Ben is not getting any younger and has not stayed healthy for a full season in years.
Lastly in the NFC, serious contenders are the Seahawks, Packers, Cowboys, and Falcons. All post mediocre defenses with the exception of Seattle, they’re no longer the “Legion of Boom” and with Sherman potentially out of town, that may leave a whole at corner. The Patriots offense is always going to be lethal with Brady running it, and they’ve only enhanced the talent around him on that side of the ball for this coming year.
I think it is safe bet to see the Pats repeat as Super Bowl Champs, something nobody has done since the same organization did it back in 04′ and 05′.