Good But Not Championship Good

Will Tom Brady and his hair be able to overcome the Patriots lack of defence?

I don’t care about Michael Vick’s miracle at the Meadowlands and Tom Brady being outperformed by first time starter Matt Flynn because as much as I’d like to see Vick take the MVP award it just wouldn’t be right with the way Brady has played this season.

The problem is, despite Tom Brady and his bunch of nobodies playing outstanding on offence, the Patriots still aren’t good enough to win a championship.

Throughout the season there have been times when the Patriots have been absolutely horrendous on defence led by their defensive wizard of a coach Bill Belichek.

It isn’t like New England doesn’t have some solid pieces on defence, but they have a number holes that they haven’t been able to cover.

Devin McCourty and his 6 interceptions has given the Pats secondary a big boost this season and if it wasn’t for Ndamukong Suh he would probably be taking the rookie defensive player of the year award.

The defence is surrounded with playmakers as well with guys like Jerod Mayo, Brandon Meriweather, Tully Banta-Cain and you can’t possibly forget the abnormally large 325 pound nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

However, the Patriots defence ranks in the bottom half of the league in almost every defensive category. Their pass defence has been absolutely atrocious as they are allowing 374.6 total yards a game and 263.3 pass yards per game, which is good for 28th and 30th in the league respectively. The odd thing is that they rank 2nd in the league in total interceptions with 21 on the year, only 2 behind Philadelphia.

The offence, as most people know, has been very 2007-like this season even with the departure of Randy Moss. Tom Brady and the Patriots have been able to incorporate a brand new core of offensive “weapons” if you can even call them that.

The franchises knack for finding great talent never ceases to amaze. Rookie tight end’s Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have played like seasoned veterans so far this season and are only getting better. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, whose name announcers can’t seem to get enough of, and 5 foot 8 division II Heisman Trophy winner Danny Woodhead have created a formidable backfield. Also, second year kick returner/receiver Brandon Tate has provided a huge spark to both the special teams and the receiving unit.

The only constant in the line-up for New England, Wes Welker, has made everyone forget about his season-ending ACL/MCL surgery and is right back to being his old self. I guess Deion Branch also gets part marks for being a constant because in his first game back with the Patriots after re-acquiring him from the Seattle Seahawks it looked like he had never left.

The Pats offence ranks #1 in points per game and unlike their defence they are in the top half of the league in virtually every offensive category.

Devin McCourty leads the Patriots with 6 interceptions

Nevertheless, after seeing Matt Flynn’s performance manning the Green Bay offence on Sunday night football, I think I was convinced that the Patriots are not quite good enough to win a super bowl simply because of their defence. Not to take anything away from Flynn’s surprisingly impressive showing being thrust into such a difficult position with the injury to Aaron Rodgers, but the Patriots defence made the Packers offence look unstoppable at times.

It wasn’t just the passing game either though because the Patriots allowed the Packers to fool us into believing that they actually have a running game. Brandon Jackson ran 22 times for 99 yards, good for a 4.5 yard per carry average, which is 0.6 yards per carry better than his season average.

Unfortunately for the Patriots last night was not an anomaly for the much maligned defence either. In week 3 they allowed the Bills to score 30 points led by Marshawn Lynch and the Bills well-known wicked rushing attack that averaged 5.6 yards per carry that game. Peyton Hillis also torched their defence with 184 yards on ground in week 9. The Bills and Browns rank 17th and 18th in total rush yards in the NFL this season.

The Patriots have allowed certain teams and players to take advantage of their defence that a championship team should not allow. Chad Henne and Carson Palmer have both thrown for over 300 yards in losing causes while more respected players around the league Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers have also had field days all in losses to New England.

These shootout, run n’ gun style wins may be alright for the regular season but come playoff time and things aren’t going to be as easy. The Patriots offence, no matter how good it is, will have a much tougher time scoring in the playoffs with the intensity of opposing teams defences cranked up to the max.

It is inevitable that the Pats come up against a team or teams with an offence that can somewhat keep up with them and a defence that trumps theirs.

It seems like this is as good a year as any for the Patriots to be able to come out on top. The 2010 version of the NFL has no clear-cut number one team. To many fans and analysts alike the Patriots are the top team right now and it’s hard to disagree with that. However, the fact that there is no true consensus top team leaves the Patriots with as good or as bad odds as anyone to win the Super Bowl , whichever way you want to look at it.

When the Patriots come up against a team like the Ravens, Falcons or Steelers their defence flat out isn’t going to be able to do enough to allow their offence the opportunity to outscore the opposition.

They say you need to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good. Well, the New England Patriots are going to need a whole lot of luck if they plan on taking home another championship this coming February.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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11 Responses to Good But Not Championship Good

  1. Nick says:

    I disagree, at any given week a team could win a game despite their record, Green Bay has one fo the best defenses and the patriots defense is young but the patriots still pulled out the win. A few bad games defensively doesn’t change the fact that they have beaten a handful of many great defenses in the steelers, the bears and the jets. The patriots have the best offense and if their young defense can makes stops when they need to and win the turn over battle they could very well go all the way.

  2. Brad says:

    Hey Chris…
    worried about defense too…however, defense is young, inexperienced, and after 2 GREAT games think they read their press clippings and it went to their heads…
    Belichick will solve that problem…in a close game, I will take our coach over anyone…he ALWAYS remains calm and that trickles down to the players…
    betcha New England makes it to the SuperBowl…clinching 1st seed huge…we are 11-0 in snow games since 2001 season’s Snowbowl vs. Raiders! Playing in Foxboro in January is a HUGE advantage for us!
    You are a great writer Chris…enjoy reading your stuff! Brad

  3. Like the column Chris. I agree with your stats on the Pats, but they always seem to have a knack to pull it out. They are getting better on D also over the last couple weeks. I think your right on any given week a team that is good defensively has a shot to take them down. I hope its my Jets! lol Hey thanks for your comment on mikeworldofsports. Anytime you have something to add i apreciate it. Keep up the good work!

  4. Josh Sanders says:

    An interesting perspective Chris, but I have to respectfully disagree. The Patriots, as much as I dislike them, are the best team in football currently. They have just found ways to win, despite the turnover in personnel. It’s really a credit to Bill Belichick and his system. They’re not 12-2 because of luck and out-shooting their bad defense. They have beaten good teams. They have wins over Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Green Bay. I know they had an inexplicable loss to the Browns, but chalk that up to a great Mangini game plan I suppose. I think any team led by Belichick and Brady in the playoffs has better than a punchers chance against anyone, especially this season.

    By the way, some time ago, we had corresponded, and I added Painting the Black to my blogroll. I was wondering if you would extend the same courtesy? It would be much appreciated!

    Thanks, and keep writing!

  5. crush-monkey says:

    Chris, I see sports writing in your future!! : )

    Ok, being from the Boston area I want to say the Patriots are the best. But watching the same team play the Packers and the Browns….something just wasn’t right. Yes it was a WIN for us, but something was missing!

    Go Pats!

  6. andyju4392 says:

    Who wins in the playoffs partially relies on who heats up at the right time. The Patriots are the hottest team in the NFL, score more than 30 points in their past 6 games. I don’t know how you can say a pat-ravens or steelers matchup will spell doom for NE. The pats beat the ravens earlier this year, and that was during the sloppy beginning of the season. The Pats also beat up the Steelers 39-26 in pittsburgh. the defense was horrendous, again, over the first half of the season. Lately, theyve been on fire. 3 points to the Jets and 7 points to the bears is pretty darn good if you ask me

  7. The Patriots rise to the occasion and just weren’t ready for Flynn to perform at that level. Those were the workmanlike professional Pats you saw Sunday night; the real deal Patriots will show up come playoff time.

  8. tophatal says:


    Are there meant to be style points in the NFL for a win ? Otherwise who actually gives a s_it ? No one really is overly concerned unless their team is on the other end of an ass kicking and that’s it.


    tophatal 😉

  9. Nice column Chris,

    I think the one thing that the Pats have going for them is that Bill Belichick, more than anyone else, knows how to teach on a week to week basis. This had the feeling of a let down game much like what happened in Cleveland. We’ve seen the defense go out and hold the Steelers, hold the Jets. They’ve done just enough against almost every quality team so far this year and from my eye seem to only be getting better. As the season wears on i’m actually starting to gain more confidence with the defense opposed to a weakening of confidence.

    Great thoughts though!

  10. TylerThePackFan says:




  11. tophatal says:


    After the loss rumors were going around that several members of the Pats’ defense had been asked if they’d like to audition for next season’s DWTS ! As everyone knows you don’t have to have any coordination to appear on the show or a talent for dancing to begin with. As it was certainly evident with the players on the Pats this past Sunday !

    tophatal ……………….. 🙂

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