The New England Patriots are set up perfectly to win Super Bowl 46 and are also set up for another great run in the next few years. The following two factors make the Patriots the favorites on Super Bowl Sunday and in great position for the next few seasons:
The Patriots' run-defense was terrible in the regular season, but in the playoffs it has been noticeably better. During the regular season, the Patriots gave up 4.6 yards per carry; through two postseason games against great rushing teams, they have only allowed 3.5 yards per carry.
If the Patriots can slow the Giants' running game, it will prevent New York from controlling the tempo. The Giants have a very good passing attack with Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, but they cannot defeat the Patriots in a shootout. Manning threw for 4,933 yards this year, but Brady's totals of 5,235 yards and 39 TDs were second only to Drew Brees.
Brady said he "sucked" against the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. Well, the Patriots still won, and Brady didn't have one of his best days, with only 239 yards, zero TDs and two INTs. That win was the product of the Patriots' run-defense's ability to slow Ray Rice and the Ravens.
The Giants need to establish a run game to create balance. The better the Patriots' run-defense is, the less likely the Giants can attain that balance. The Patriots will win the Super Bowl behind an improved defense and an offense that scores and moves the ball—even on Brady's bad days.
Multiple First-Round Picks
Brady and Bill Belichick are the cornerstones, and they make contention possible, but the pieces still have to be there to win. The Patriots have two first-round picks, and there are several players who could be available when the Pats make their selections.
A team that is already championship-caliber with multiple picks—and with few players set to leave via free agency—is a gold mine. Wes Welker is a free agent, but I really believe he will return on a two or three-year deal.
New England has few spots that need to be improved. The secondary is an obvious need, though. The team was last in the NFL against the pass, and there are two cornerbacks who figure to be available when the Pats choose:
Stephen Gilmore, South Carolina
Gilmore is a cornerback with good size and decent athleticism who reminds me of Charles Tillman.
Chase Minnifield, Virginia
Minnifield is a second generation player (his dad Frank played for the Cleveland Browns) who has great ball skills.
Will the Patriots be favored to reach the Super Bowl in 2013?
As far as the other first-round selection, the Patriots could choose to add a playmaker at receiver. Chad Ochocinco will probably not return, and a speedster would be a great add to complement Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski.
The Patriots could go for Kendall Wright of Baylor. He has upside as a home run threat and is also a dynamic return man. Imagine giving Brady premium field position—that would make the attack that much more deadly.
The Patriots are in the Super Bowl now, and they have the flexibility and draft picks to get even better. Barring major injuries, get ready to see New England playing deep in to January and February for the next few years.