Patriots

‘Perfect Patriots?’ Let’s give it a rest

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates his touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola, left, the 400th touchdown pass of Brady's NFL career, in the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

COMMENTARY

Can we cool it with the “undefeated’’ talk?

Actually, put the damned thing on ice, top it with a wedge of lemon and serve it to the suckers in Denver, Charlotte, Phoenix, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Green Bay, where their teams are the same 3-0 as your New England Patriots. Let them deal with that suffocating hassle.

No sooner did we finish celebrating the competitive nature of an undefeated AFC East through one week of the regular season — the first time that had ever happened, partly because divisional showdowns normally mark Week One — and here we are, already debating which of the seven perfect teams through Week 3 can make it all the way to San Francisco with 19-0 under their belt.

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We all know the odds. No team in NFL history has even gone spotless through a 16-game schedule and gone on to win the Super Bowl. The 2007 Patriots came closest to putting the 1972 Dolphins (16-0) to rest once and for all, but…well, you know.

But there’s jumping the gun and then there’s throwing the pistol across the room and making an unrealistic leap.

It’s an easy storyline where the Patriots are concerned. New England is three games into its Middle Finger Tour in the wake of Deflategate, its first mission of notable vengeance since the ’07 season was played under the suspicion of Spygate. It was one year ago Tuesday that the Patriots found themselves on a the short end of a 41-14 loss at Kansas City that some opined marked the end of the Patriots dynasty under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

They’re 16-2 since then, one of the losses coming at Green Bay last November, the other in a meaningless regular-season finale against the Bills in which Brady made only 16 first-half passing attempts before giving way to Jimmy Garoppolo. Over that period, they’ve only managed to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks (Super Bowl), Indianapolis Colts (AFC Championship game), Baltimore Ravens (divisional playoff), San Diego Chargers, Packers, Detroit Lions, Broncos, and Cincinnati Bengals. That leaves perhaps only the Arizona Cardinals on the outs in terms of what might be considered the league’s stiffest competition.

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The Patriots beat all but one.

Taking that into consideration along with a 2015 schedule that appears more and more to have been gifted by the Lords of the People Against Roger Goodell Movement, there has been a percolating reasoning around these parts about the Patriots finishing the job they couldn’t finish eight years ago.

“We don’t compare ourselves to anybody,’’ Belichick said on Wednesday when he was asked if he dislikes the chatter comparing the two teams. “We just try to go out there and improve, do a good job, get ready for Dallas next week.’’

It’s not a comparison that Patriots fans should necessarily want to make.

Not only did the 2007 Pats fail to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, the team also gets unfairly heralded as a world-beater, when it was merely under that guise for 11 weeks of the season. After throttling the Buffalo Bills, 56-10, the Patriots squeaked by the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-28, in Week 12, which kicked off an eight-game stretch, including playoffs, during which New England won by an average of only 9.25 points per game, compared to nearly 21 points in its 9-0 start prior to the bye week.

True, this year’s Patriots appear to be head and shoulders above everybody else in the AFC, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t land mines ahead. Dallas can still pound the ball with the best offensive line in football. The Colts…actually, never mind.

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But the Jets look like they might tout the best defensive unit in the AFC East. Denver, where the Patriots will head to in late November, might have the best defense in the entire conference. Bill O’Brien might have a trick or two up his sleeve of familiarity when New England visits Houston in mid-December.

Those are four potential trouble spots right there. So, can we at least wait until after the Colts beatdown to start talking about running the table?

“I can’t understand that one quite yet,’’ Brady said Monday during his weekly appearance on WEEI. “It’s, like, three games into the year. There’s so much football left. And there’s so many different things that can happen. Not even a quarter of the way through the season. It’s way too early to think about anything.

“We have so many quality opponents and teams that we’re playing, especially on the road. You never know. Look at the teams that are 3-0 at this point. Like Atlanta, like Carolina, Arizona — there’s some teams that, OK, you wouldn’t really expect that. And look what they’re making of their season.’’

In fact, maybe a bit of adversity is sometimes needed in order to build the character of a championship-caliber team. Not to promote the effort of losing as means to a greater good, mind you, but Belichick hasn’t hidden the fact that last year’s embarrassment against the Chiefs was an important turning point in his team’s season. This, despite the panic and hoopla that surrounded the aftermath. Remember the feeling you took away from the seven-point loss to the St. Louis Rams in November, 2001, nine weeks before the Patriots would beat the Greatest Show on Turf in New Orleans?

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Learning is just as much — nee, more — a part of a successful season as relentless dominance.

We already “know’’ the Patriots and Packers are better than everybody else, right? Just like the 3-0 Bengals of a year ago. Or the 3-0 Cardinals of 2013. Or the 9-0 Chiefs in 2012. Or the 8-0 Falcons in 2011, the 13-0 Packers in 2011, the 14-0 Colts in 2009, the 10-0 Tennessee Titans in 2008, and, of course, your 18-0 New England Patriots in 2007.

Not one of those teams won the Super Bowl.

New Englanders should know better to not talk perfection until February. Yet, here some Pats fans are — THREE GAMES IN — and already getting delusions of grandeur.

Seventeen-and-two is as good as being perfect, just as long as it comes with some shiny hardware.

(But if the Patriots get past Denver unscathed, they’re probably going 19-0 all the same.)

Photos from the Patriots’ win over the Jaguars

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