The Patriots win yesterday against the Falcons gave Patriots fans their swagger back, plain and simple. While close games (albeit wins) against the Bills, Jets, and Bucs had every New England fan feeling skeptical, Bill Belicheck and Tom Brady kindly issued a reminder of what makes them such a dynamic duo – they win more than anyone else. We should have known better.
While the Patriots and their continued line movement in sportsbook NFL betting should not be at the forefront of everyone’s mind at this point (the Red Sox should be), the Patriots are as always making a case for our attention. To me, this season has embodied all of the differences we’ve long seen between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Peyton and his ridiculous cast of weapons are racking up absurd numbers and getting all of the hype. Meanwhile, Brady has led a nameless cast that doesn’t even include Danny Amedola or Rob Gronkowski to the same record, essentially making something out of nothing. Here’s to wondering aloud what Peyton would manage with a simillar cast.
All of that said, I’m the first to admit that Denver is clearly the cream of the crop in the NFL this year. Peyton’s offensive weapons are absurd, he’s obviously on top of his game, and Denver’s defense is pretty damn good as well. If they played the Pats tomorrow, they’d toast them. But when I look towards the end of the regular season, I see a Patriots team that will have gotten countless valuable reps with players like Kenbrell Thompkins (who either drops the ball or is a highlight reel) and Julian Edelmen, with stars like Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola returning. The return of the Patriots potent offense looks likely.
Coupled with the offense, the defense has been fantastic. In beating the Falcons that Patriots showed that they can beat a very good team. I admit it’s a very different game without Steven Jackson in the line-up, and that’s precisely what now has me worried. With Vince Wilfork out for the season, the Patriots lost their second most valuable player after Tom Brady. Wilfork is the heart and soul of the New England defense, and is literally a one man run defense. I’d look for the Pats to really struggle against the run in coming weeks, and their games should become increasingly high scoring as the Pats offense continues to mature.
In the immediate term I’d look for the Pats to win the games they should, and lose a couple of games to the more potent offenses. The good news is when you’re 4-0, you can likely afford to do that. And while there’s a major question mark around whether or not the Pats defense can even somewhat successfully play without Vince Wilfork, we should remember what we’ve learned over the past dozen years – with Brady and Belichick, we’ve got a better shot to win the with less than any other team out there.