Let Week 8 Serve as a Wake Up Call, NFL Should Still Fear the Patriots
The Patriots won the London showcase by a score of 45-7, piling up 473 total yards on offense and an eye-popping 29 first downs.
The Rams defense hasn't exactly been getting pushed around this season, either. Before this game, the Rams had only been giving up 324 yards and allowing just over 20 points per contest. After getting annihilated by the Pats, the Rams' stats ballooned to 343 yards and 23.3 points allowed per game.
After barely squeaking past the hapless New York Jets in Week 7, Tom Brady gave an interview to WEEI 93.7 FM's Dennis & Callahan. They asked him why the team was struggling to close out games in 2012, to which he responded:
We're trying to do it. It's not like you flip a switch...I wish it were that easy. And maybe there were times when it has looked that easy...Maybe we've just spoiled some people in the meantime. Because it's hard to win, man. It's really hard to win.
For my part, the criticisms leveled against this team this season are unwarranted, considering the influx of new talent playing key roles.
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Matt Light is gone, Nate Solder is playing a different position this year, Brandon Lloyd is still trying to gel with Brady, Aaron Hernandez has been out of the lineup most of the year—and this is just on offense.
On defense, the Patriots feature three rookie starters: Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower and Alfonzo Dennard. There is bound to be a learning curve for these guys—not to mention a period of adjustment for the entire defense.
This team is starting to come together, and that's a scary thought for the rest of the AFC. With an offense that can beat teams silly with its running game and then slap them upside the head with its passing attack, their opponents have a major dilemma every week.
Are the Patriots the team to beat in the AFC?
Paired with a burgeoning young defense that is stout against the run (No. 8 in the NFL, giving up just 88.6 yards per game), the Patriots will be tough to beat in December and January when the weather becomes a bigger factor.
Don't count out the Patriots. Brady and company will be a major factor in the playoffs, and it won't be a shock to see them representing the AFC in Super Bowl XLVII next February.
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