The New England Patriots have proven this NFL season that they are an unstoppable force, unlike any other franchise in years.
This team's heart and soul revolves around quarterback Tom Brady. A three-time Super Bowl winner out of Michigan, Brady has led the New England Patriots to a new, heretofore undiscovered level of success.
A steal in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, Brady has played with a mediocre supporting cast around him for years (Reche Caldwell, anyone?), but now has the tools and players around him to become a truly dominant force in this league.
Brady is no longer the only great player on this roster, as the wide receiving corps has gotten deeper than ever.
With Randy Moss, possession-prototype Donte Stallworth, and the ultimate slot receiver with dependable third-down hands in Wes Welker, Brady is bound to find at least one open target on every play.
Not to mention that fourth-WR Jabar Gaffney and TE Ben Watson are among the most reliable off-the-bench players in the league. It is almost unfair to see how much receiving talent is present here: no running game is necessary with the skill sets of these terrific players.
There is a running game, however, and people tend to forget about it. Led by former Golden Gopher Laurence Maroney and supported by Kevin Faulk—a poor man's Brian Westbrook—this running game dependably produces quality runs, as well as catches out of the backfield.
Don't forget about goal line and short yardage specialist Heath Evans or Navy product Kyle Eckel, both players who have the ability to get the small yardage necessary to keep drives alive.
Did I mention they also have one of the best offensive lines in football?
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots' defense is among the best in the league. Led by inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi and cornerback Asante Samuel is stout, making plays and taking opponents out of games. The players rarely miss tackles, are focused, and well-coached.
This season, despite their consistency,the Pats' defense has been underappreciated, due to the spectacular offense getting all of the media's attention. Make no mistake, though—this D can stop opponents in their tracks.
The kicking game has been solid, with Stephen Gostkowski converting on almost everything he has attempted. He looks like the second coming of Adam Vinatieri.
And of course, the Patriots are well coached, led by Bill Belichick, who has been to several Super Bowls.
So, why will the New England Patriots win this year's big game?
The roster is the most talented in the NFL. Top to bottom, their starters are solid, with a great bunch of backup players. They are led by one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and are well coached.
They have the experience. A great number of these players have played on previous Super Bowl teams, and nearly all of the rest have been to the playoffs and big games before. Don't expect them to wither away in the postseason.
Hello? They had one of the best regular seasons ever. The New England Patriots are a legitimate threat to go undefeated through the regular season. Having beaten back a number of quality opponents—such as the Colts, Steelers, Cowboys, and Chargers—this Pats' consistency against top teams proves how dominant and relentless their play on the football field is.
So if there's one thing that holds this team back, it will be...
Stephen Gostkowski. If a playoff game comes down to a game-winning field goal, the Pats' season will depend solely on Gostkowski's nerves. He has been tested very little in big games in the regular season, since New England has pulled away so quickly in the majority of contests they've played.
But Gostkowski could the limiting factor in the Patriots' ability to succeed in the postseason.
I will be covering other teams as the playoff picture solidifies. Come back and read about the other playoff teams soon!