Brady, Pats Seek to Avenge XLII Loss
Is it too early to write an article like this? Of course it is. Before you read this, assume you are a jury and I am the judge and I just instructed you to apply facts—not emotion—to your verdict.
The best team in the AFC is the New England Patriots. The best team in the NFC is the New York Giants. Should everything hold true to form, these two clubs will meet in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami on February 7th, 2010.
The plain truth is the Patriots have been accused of many things (and rightfully so), which has led to most non-Patriot fans despising them like some kind of movie villains. That doesn't change the fact that they won 10 games without the best player in football—QB Tom Brady—last season.
Brady's comeback from reconstructive knee surgery is being called miraculous by most medical experts. He's way ahead of schedule and looking like the Brady of old. That's good news for the Pats and bad news for the rest of the AFC.
Making the Case for the Patriots
Brady will rejoin his merry band of receivers (Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Benjamin Watson), his celebrated offensive line and a new-look backfield that contains Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor and Laurence Maroney.
The Pats also signed WR Joey Galloway and TEs Alex Smith and Chris Baker as free agents. Other enhancements are third round draft choice WR Brandon Tate, the re-signing of RB Patrick Pass, and the trade for Eagles' WR Greg Lewis.
I think they have enough offense—don't you?
On defense, Rodney Harrison is gone, as are Mike Vrabel and Ellis Hobbs. Coming in are CBs Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden, LB Tully Banta-Cain and draft choices S Patrick Chung, DT Ron Brace and CB Darius Butler.
That's on top of an already talented unit that claims DEs Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Jarvis Green; LBs Tedy Bruschi, Jerrod Mayo, Adalius Thomas and Pierre Woods, and DT Vince Willfork and safeties Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders.
I think they have enough defense, too.
The Dolphins happen to have a legit starter in Chad Pennington, but they also have Chad Henne and Pat White in the wings. Conventional wisdom says Pennington is just a placeholder until one of these guys is ready. Controversy awaits.
New Jets coach Rex Ryan has taken a couple of pokes at Bill Bellichick this offseason. Word to the wise, Rex: shut up.
Terrell Owens has devoured Buffalo; they may as well concede now. Miami could be in for a relapse after such a drastic turnaround last year.
That puts them at a disadvantage. The Chargers have quite a few internal questions, and since they haven't reached a Super Bowl, are wondering if they are snake-bit.
Prediction: New England will win 13 games and the AFC Championship. Papa Tom will be Comeback Player of the Year—and MVP.
New York Giants
No one gives the Giants any credit for anything. They could win four straight Super Bowls and morons will keep picking against them.
My advice to the Giant detractors: brace yourself. They're coming.
All of the cancerous, parasitic and self-absorbed elements of this team are gone. The Giants are a cohesive, well-oiled, deep, and hungry bunch who are quietly waiting for the season to start.
Making the Case For the Giants
On offense, Eli Manning appears to have matured into a leader. He is throwing spirals now, too.
In workouts he has looked like a different player. Eli has become "Very Peyton-like", one observer told me.
This will be his time. He will begin to dominate now. I am one of Eli's biggest critics, so if I'm telling you this, it's got be true.
The rushing combination of Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, Danny Ware, and Andre Brown is one of football's best, and they are running behind the NFL's top offensive line. Teams have to physically and mentally prepare for Jacobs, who seeks out contact and can wear opponents down over the course of a game. The others offer a change of pace, usually after Jacobs softens the opponents' defense and usually rips off a a few big plays to ice games.
The receiving aspect of the offense has come under fire by many a pundit and self-proclaimed expert. Trust me when I tell you that this unit will be considered a strength.
Just remember this part—Plaxico, who? Remember when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup without Mario Lemieux? Think along those lines....
The defense suffered a letdown last year, but is ready for a resurgence. With Michael Strahan in retirement and Osi Umenyiora shelved with a knee injury, the Giants' vaunted d-line rotation was not as effective.
This season, they stocked up nicely. Free agent veterans Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard will join All-Pro DE Justin Tuck, a bulked-up Umnenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka and Barry Cofield to create a formidable front.
They will be supported by a linebacking crew anchored by redemption-filled Antonio Pierce, Michael Boley, Danny Clark, Bryan Kehl and a powerful rookie, Clint Sintim.
The secondary is stocked with high-round talent: CBs Corey Webster, Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas, and S Kenny Phillips. Along with safeties Michael Johnson and CC Brown and corner Kevin Dockery, this unit has the potential to become a highly productive one.
The NFC East is a rough road to travel on each year. This year, the Eagles put the finishing touches on their offense, which promises to be a high-scoring one.
They did so at the expense of their defense though. They did not add any significant parts through free agency or the draft, plus they lost their captain S Brian Dawkins to free agency.
In addition, the club may be without their legendary coordinator Jim Johnson, who took a leave of absence to undergo cancer treatments. Best wishes to him—he is a good man.
Dallas is claiming they are better with this ridiculous "addition by subtraction" crap they've been spewing in the media. They lost a ton of players and didn't draft this year until day two. Hard to believe they are going to be better.
Washington did what they do best—they threw money around like drunken sailors in free agency again.
They grossly overpaid for Albert Haynesworth and D'Angelo Hall. Then they drafted a natural DE in Texas' Brian Orakpo to replace Jason Taylor, and are trying to make a linebacker out of him. Yikes.
The NFC was won by Arizona last year. My advise to Cardinal fans—I hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl because you may not get there again for awhile.
This season it comes down to two teams: New York and Philadelphia. This time the Giants will prevail.
Super Bowl XLIV will pit a vengeful Bill Bellichick against the team that ruined his perfect season two years ago. Regardless of his intent, the Giants just might be favored this time around. Do you think the reconnaissance of the Giants has begun yet in Foxborough?