As a Steeler fan, I am predisposed to have nothing but visceral contempt for the New England Patriots. After two devastating home losses in the AFC Championship Game, Steeler fans often feel like the franchise could have 7 championships by now. That was then, this is now. Tom Brady and Randy Moss could stop playing today and would have historic seasons. 38 touchdown passes after 10 games? Insane. 16 TD catches and not a DB alive who can even slow him down? Ridiculous. The Patriots don’t need a run game, but they have Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris and had Kevin Faulk and could probably pick up some guy off the street and gash an elite team for 150 yards. All the pieces are in place and the schemes are flawless.This edition of the New England Patriots is absolutely unbelievable. While it is certain that any team can lose on any given Sunday, this is probably the most dominant team I’ve ever seen – and that includes the Dynasty Era Steelers, the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers and the 1985 Chicago Bears. The Patriots can be had – but the chances of that happening are increasing slim. The Patriots have elite personnel on both sides of the ball and a singular focus that has that at the edge of history.
This is no time to hate the Patriots. Watch every minute because you may not see this again.
(Yes, it does hurt to write that.)
As an aside, I thought I better put my two cents in on how I would try to slow down this offense. First, ball control and scoring on offense would be critical. Second, I’m double teaming Moss all game – no matter what. Of course double coverage is irrelevant on deep balls – but on crossing and underneath routes, I want to try to get a jam and harass him early in the route. The priority has to be to take Moss away as an early look and as a 2nd look. If he’s still running around 5 seconds after the snap, it won’t matter if he’s doubled. He’s probably going to catch the ball and embarrass someone.
The second requirement is to take away Wes Welker. That’s arguably tougher than covering Moss because Welker gets matchups against secondary defenders. I’d put my BEST corner on Welker – man to man – all day. Then I’d put my number 2 corner up against Moss with help from safeties and LBs. That leaves 8 guys to get after Brady and also stop the run. It can be done – but it won’t be easy. You need an excellent front four and savvy play-making linebackers, and at least one elite corner with top-notch COD skills. Not too many teams have all of that.
With all of that said, even if you’re perfect on defense, you’ll probably need 31 points to win the game.