Monday, September 08, 2008

The Tom Bradyless New England Patriots

So, the Patriots attempt to repeat their 16-0 season apparently lasted less than 8 minutes. No, they haven't lost yet. No, they haven't announced that Brady's out for the year (though the fact that Chris Simms and Tim Rattay are coming in today is telling).

And that's depressing.

So, how does this change the outlook? Well, for one thing, it does not end the Patriots season. It makes them a real longshot to win the Super Bowl, which was their goal, but it does not end their season.

1) The offense will not set a new NFL record again this year. I think, though, that it will be OK. I believe that Cassel can be competent, and the weapons (Moss, Welker, Maroney) are still in place. They'll adapt. Figure them to score 350 points instead of the 500 that we were looking for.

2) The defense is what I was concerned about before yesterday, and it remains what I'm concerned about. If they can get the defensive backfield into a competent condition, they'll be a good defense again. They've average 270 points allowed over the last five years. Assume that they'll be somewhere in that neighborhood again.

3) A team that scores 350 and allows 270 should win 10 games and make the playoffs. The Patriots still have what appears to be an easy schedule, though part of that is illusion based on the records of the Jets and Dolphins from last year. They've still got a great coach, who is one of the great game planners in NFL history.

My take: New England goes 11-5 and wins the AFC East.

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