Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Patriot Acts

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick's nefarious scheming continues - he apparently conspired to have the entire Washington Redskins team replaced by local high-schoolers.

Seriously though, I watched the first three quarters of Sunday's 52-7 embarrassment, and I left with the following question - are the Pats really that good, or is the rest of the NFL that pathetic?

I ask because I don't think the 'Skins have any right to be 4-3. They have no offense, the vague shadow of a defense, and weak special teams. They only won four games because Philly, Miami, Arizona, and Detroit are even worse than they are (and Detroit's 5-2). And I ask because it's kind of odd leaving a 52-7 game thinking, "you know, we should have won that" - the 'Skins had at least 35 points worth of self-inflicted wounds.

I'll give the Pats this much - they have a great passing game and a second-to-maybe-Indy offensive line. But beyond that? Their running game is ordinary. Their defense is anchored by solid linebackers, but outside of Samuel and Harrison they have no one in coverage. Several times during Sunday's game, 'Skins receivers got open only to be missed by Jason Campbell. And their playcalling? I think I saw them call five different offensive plays the entire time. I think they called the same 5-yard over-the-middle route to Wes Welker a hundred times. And who doesn't know what's coming when LB Mike Vrabel enters the game on offense near the goal line? (Answer - 'Skins LB Marcus Washington.)

Sure, the Pats might be the best team in the NFL this year, and if they get past Indy next week they could even go undefeated and be remembered as a great team. But I wouldn't put them at the head of the class - yet. I've seen nothing from them that would put them above the '89 Niners, the '91 'Skins, or the mid-90s Cowboys in the pecking order of best teams that I've seen play. Now let's see if they can prove me wrong. If a talented team like Indy can play a near-flawless game at home and still lose, it'll definitely help the Pats' case for inclusion among the greats.

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