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Question: With the Super Bowl picture becoming clearer, which team do you think would have a better shot at taking down the mighty Patriots, the New York Giants or the Green Bay Packers? I'm a huge Giants fan and would love to hear your explanation as to why my team is the more worthy adversary. -- James, Naples, FL
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Question: Personally, Vic, I don't think the Patriots win two more games, but even if they do, I won't classify them as the greatest team ever. Sure they would have an undefeated season and the best-ever record, but I don't think they would beat the '97-98 Broncos. They would get crushed by any one of the Dallas' '90s champions. Let's not forget the 49ers teams that won -- Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Dwight Clark, Roger Craig, Tom Rathman. The Pats don't have a six pack like that. They just didn't play enough good teams to get the greatest-team-ever stamp of approval. -- Will T.
They would get that stamp of approval from me.
Comparing great teams of different eras is always going to produce a wide range of opinions, but when it comes to the Patriots, the 19-0 record would be a pretty good start for the argument. It is an accomplishment that is so incredible it boggles the mind. Overcoming the difficult restrictions posed by the salary cap and unrestricted free agency, the Pats have dominated most of their opponents. Their offense has set impressive all-time league, team and individual records.
The 49ers "six pack" you mentioned was impressive. You forgot to include the coach, Bill Walsh. I think the Patriots have a pretty decent five-some in Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Benjamin Watson, and Laurence Maroney. I would rank Bill Belichick with Walsh and any other of the greatest coaches in NFL history. And I would rank New England's offensive line with those of any of the teams you listed.
Question: You wrote: "Belichick remains the master of in-game adjustments on both sides of the ball." Of course. Once you know what the other team is calling, it's easy to make in-game adjustments. It used to be that cheaters never prosper. Now, they can be raised to NFL Coach of the Year. What message are we sending to the kids of America? If you get arrested, drive drunk, cause fights at strip clubs, you'll be suspended. If you want to cheat, make sure you have a spare half-million bucks and don't need any draft picks. Heck, you might even be known as one of the greatest at what you do in history. Please! Belichick should have been suspended and the Pats should have been forced to forfeit the game. Soon, the NFL will drop to the level of the MLB with their steroid problem, only because no one was willing to deal with the Pats and Belichick properly. -- Craig, Covington, KY
But you are badly mistaken if you believe cheating is what makes Belichick so good at in-game adjustments or such an outstanding coach. He is extremely talented. Did he make a mistake? Yes. However, that does not diminish his skill, and that is what the majority of the members of the Associated Press' media voting panel ultimately considered when they named him Coach of the Year.
The Patriots' greatest vulnerability is in their linebacking corps. They have some aging players in Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi. I also don't think they've gotten anywhere near the return on the massive investment they've made in free agent Adalius Thomas.
I think the Patriots will continue to be a dominant team for at least two and maybe three more seasons. Brady still has multiple years ahead of him as an elite quarterback. The Pats will probably find a way to extend the contract of Moss, who also has several good seasons left. Belichick will be sticking around for the foreseeable future as well.
When I say "dominant," I am not necessarily expecting the Patriots to go 16-0 again. But I think they will remain a very strong contender for a while.
My praise for the Patriots has absolutely nothing to do with being "completely in love" with them or being biased or riding on their bandwagon.
Their next game will tell us more. And, if there is another, that will be the most revealing of all.
Yes, I am willing to wait for all of the evidence to come in before handing them the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but there is nothing I've seen to date to indicate that won't be the case.