Do Patriots Deserve to Be Favored to Win SB?
posted at 5/11/2009 8:49 PM EDT
Peter King has written an article for SI, picking the top NFL teams, from 1-32. He has placed the New England Patriots at #1, followed by the Steelers, Giants, Bears (yes...da Bears), Colts, Eagles, Chargers, Ravens, Cowboys, and Titans.
If I were a Steelers fan, I would take this as a great insult. After all, didn't the Black & Gold crush the Cassel led Patriots in Foxboro, on their way to winning the 2008 season championship? Yet, despite have their SB winning team returning almost completely intact, their getting dissed;
Giants fans will point back to the 2007 season SB...and the fact that their 2009 defense, and running game, may, in fact, be deeper and better, than the 2007 version.
As for the Bears...its' a joke that they have been included by King as one of the NFL's top teams.
The Colts are always in the hunt. Last year, cracks were beginning to show, as injuries infiltrated both their offensive and defensive lines. Marvin Harrison is gone, and Joe Addai has showed signs of wear and tear. The selection of RB Donald Brown should improve the Colts running game and screen pass attack. Nonetheless, the lack of a deep threat, that was Harrison, will make it less formidable. Furthermore, how much will they miss Tony Dungy?
The Eagles, based on their great off-season, should be a threat. Their defense is solid. The addition of LT Jason Peters will fortify their OL. Young WRs Deshawn Jackson are Jeremy Maclin are game breakers...and rookie RB LeSean McCoy should allow them to take some of the load off the fabulous Brian Westbrook.
The Chargers have a first rate QB in Philip Rivers. But, their OL is not nearly what it was in 2006...and neither is LaDainian Tomlinson. As we saw last year, Shawne Merriman is the key to their defense. It remains to be seen if Merriman can fully recover from his serious knee injury. The fact that the Bolts used their top draft choice on hybrid OLB Larry English suggests some concern.
The Ravens will fall back to Earth in 2009. An older, free agency ravaged defense, and a darth of WRs, will speed their downfall.
The Cowboys have no business being listed in the top 10. Their OL is old, injury prone, and overrated. Those who followed the 2009 draft saw how their silly trade for WR Roy Williams damaged the team. Wade Phillips is a figurehead of coach, taking his marching orders from you know who...and everybody knows it.
The Titans have fallen, largely due to the loss of DT Albert Hayneswoth. QB Kerry Collins is a year older...and neither he, or his team, will be sneaking up on anybody this season. Nonetheless, their defense and running game still make them formidable.
WHICH BRINGS US TO THE PATRIOTS. Theres' no way that the 2009 offense will rival the 2007 edition. Their WR corp isn't as good, or deep. Their OL remains the same, but two years older. Tom Brady, like Shawne Merriman, is coming off a severe knee injury. Will he ever return to being the Tom Terrific of old? Will missing the the entire 2008 season cause him to be rusty...at least initially?
As for the defense, is it any better than the 2007 unit? That year, the Patriots finished 2nd in the NFL with 47 sacks. That total dropped off dramatically last year. Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison, and Asante Samuel are gone, Tedy Bruschi is 36, and Richard Seymour has yet to play to the level of his contract.
But, ILB Jarod Mayo has been added to the mix, as have several young DBs...and a couple of solid veterans. Assuming, as everyone does, that Jason Taylor signs on...that should benefit the pass rush. But, what if Taylor doesn't sign...or signs, but is only a shadow of the player that he once was? Who will rush the passer? Does anybody think that the 2009 Patriots defense is potentially a championship caliber unit??
The Pats, for all their accomplishments, haven't won a championship since 2004.
Thoughts? Heres' the King article: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/peter_king/05/10/may11/index.html?eref=T1