It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on my prediction that the New England Patriots will win this year’s Super Bowl, so let’s take a look at where we stand after eleven football games.
- The team has something to prove, again.
- Belichick will have to return to his roots and coach a simple but solid game-plan.
- The games will be closer, the crowd will be livelier.
- Everyone will try even harder.
- They will lose regular season games.
- Matt Cassel will have a relatively easy schedule to ease himself into the starting role.
The Bill Belichick Patriots love one thing above all else, proving people wrong. The world doubted them against the St. Louis Rams, and the Patriots relished in the scrappy underdog team role against the flashy group of superstars. For the first time in six NFL seasons, the world again heavily doubted these New England Patriots. They’ve taken that criticism to heart and have scraped together a 7-4 record that could easily be 9-2. They still have a long way to go and face a tough schedule for the rest of the season with big games against the Steelers, Cardinals and Bills still remaining.
The limitations of Cassel’s arm (at least compared to Brady, who could launch the the pigskin 70 yards on target) have also forced Belichick to abandon the “All Streaks” play from Madden that he loved to run last year (e.g. the everyone go deep, Tom throw the ball to Randy play). It’s created a stronger team that can run and pass the ball very well in the short to medium ranges, with rare chances to connect deep too provided by the defense being lulled via the short game.
It’s not Foxboro and it never will be but it seems the fans have stepped up a little bit over the past few weeks. There is still a ton of room for improvement here though. Perhaps I’ve just gotten used to the deafening decibels at the Garden but I think many of the diehard fans finally got priced out of Gillette.
Did you see the fight between Matt Light and Channing Chowder? There’s a lot to say on the negative side about the fight (possible suspension) but I love the passion and fight these Patriots are showing. They got taken down a notch last year and got a gut check to start this season and transformed themselves from last year’s glitzy team to the gritty team we see this year. Honestly the less glitzy more gritty persona fits them much better and is a return to the roots of their first three super bowl championships. They’re playing like a team again instead of a collection of superstars.
Or four or five of them. Looking at the last five games the Pats really need to win at least three of them to guarantee themselves a playoff spot. There is still a lot of regular season left, hopefully the remainder will be filled with more wins than losses.
Check. In my original post I replied to a comment that
I’m not expecting Matt Cassel to set records or carry the Pats, rather I expect him to make mistakes, learn, and eventually end up managing the game well and making a few plays here and there.
Well, it turns out Cassel proved me wrong and is setting records and even carrying the Pats. Look, I thought he’d be good, but he’s been wicked good! I won’t say great because great players are born in the playoffs, not the regular season. It doesn’t necessarily mean the Pats have to win the Super Bowl for me to consider Cassel great, but he does have to help the Pats make it to the playoffs and play well there.
Meanwhile, the AFC East is proving itself as the toughest division in football, with all four teams sporting wining records at this point. Yesterday one of the announcers for the Dolphins-Patriots game mentioned the players were fighting (literally) like it was a playoff game and I’d agree. The rivalries in the AFC East are amongst the fiercest in the league and the big game experience Cassel and the other young Pats are getting from these games will be extremely valuable come playoff time.
So far, my predictions are right on track.
::pats self on back::
Seriously though, even I would not have predicted that Matt Cassel would perform this well.