The 2004 New England Patriots

I should have done this commentary right after the Super Bowl last year...but there may not be a real need to hurry. The magic came to me, as it does every so often, that not only would the Patriots win last year's Big Game, but that they were doing it in a very unusual way. This year I fully expect them to win the Big Game again, and it will surprise absolutely nobody--that's my point.

Pretend that it is still the playoff season of 2003. The Patriots and the Eagles are the favorites to be in the final game. The Jets are surprisingly good, and Carolina is the upset special--everybody loves an underdog. Here's what's so incredible: the Patriots have NO established running game. Shhh. On the Pats there are 4 or 5 different guys who COULD be the go-to running back, and Faulk is the first obvious candidate, yes. But Faulk is used more as a short receiver or blocking back than a running back, and Faulk knows this. On those rare 3rd down situations the Pats treat watchers to short passes from play-action, or they incorporate an exposed weakness from the opposing defense. Last year, 2003, we can find statistics that will show the Pats had either the best 3rd down conversions, or most yards on 3rd down, or fewest punts, something (How hard can it be for this incredible team?).

I started saying it in week 9 last year; the Patriots are going to be the first Superbowl champs without an established running game. Period. In any given game the Pats have (as I said before) 4 or 5 different guys who COULD rush for 100 yards (go check the stats). They already proved me right--I hope you're not thinking about trying to argue with me; don't.

This team was great last year, and very fun to watch. Why? They have multiple players who could all fulfill each other's duties. Ha. An injury to a starter, or 2, or even 3, really isn't going to change the way they play the game. Imagine (I kept saying), imagine--if they HAD an "established" running back. Why; they'd be just about unstoppable. Ha. So in the off-season they acquired the above-average running back Corey Dillon. Ha. Oh this is fun.

So now they've won 21 games in a row; they outplayed an excellent Jets team today. You know that on any Sunday...any team can win. Sometimes a team can just be clicking perfectly. But not against this team. It's going to take some injuries to multiple Patriots starters, an offensive meltdown with 3 or more turnovers, AND some other team will have to be clicking perfectly just to HAVE A CHANCE to beat these Patriots. (I just don't see it happening). Period. Ha. Good luck. The best chance for a Patriots loss, since game 5 of last year was...the last Superbowl! Carolina was on, and the Pats made some mistakes, and a couple of people were hurt. It went down to the final drive of the game; remember? Here's where I'll step up; I don't see the Patriots losing. 19-0 THIS year. The world thinks it's impossible; do you? Ha.

Sure; they could lose. After they get to 10-0 they'll get more sloppy. How about after 12-0? 14-0? Jokingly, after week 4 or 5 undefeated this year, coach Bill Belicheck said something about possibly losing a game on purpose--after clinching home-field advantage through the playoffs--just to deflect the emphasis of this streak. Who could blame him? Belicheck doesn't get paid to talk to the media about winning streaks--he's in there trying to win another Superbowl. Another good example; AFTER securing home-field they could/should start playing their back-ups and rookies. This is my point; I don't know if the Patriots CAN lose a game. Who's going to beat them? Take your time; I'll wait. Tick tock. THESE Patriots will win the Super Bowl. This is easy; this is money...Last year; now THAT was the hard part. NO established running game. Ha. Go Patriots!

This commentary was completed on 10-24; one week before the Patriots game in Pittsburgh. Give ALL the credit to the Steelers--they played an excellent game, and won easily. (The pieces fell into place for the Patriots to lose; Brady threw 2 interceptions, RB Corey Dillon did not play, and the Pats have cornerback issues, as well.) The 21-game winning streak came to close, and let's all be glad it did. Now place your bets for the playoffs; I've still got New England winning it all--they are playoff-proven, and Pittsburgh is now my upset special--I think the Steelers host the unbeaten Eagles next week. Go Steelers!

And remember; a pro football team can lose 6 games during the regular season and STILL be Super Bowl champs...At least the Patriots were able to score 20 against Pittsburgh; the Eagles today (11-7-04) couldn't even get into the end zone. If not the Patriots this year, THEN the Steelers; sure. But I'm still going with New England for now.

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