New England Patriots: 10 Things The Pats Must Do To Become Super Bowl Champions

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2010

New England Patriots: 10 Things The Pats Must Do To Become Super Bowl Champions

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    New England Patriots' fans are beginning to believe its Super Bowl or bust this year, as their young team continues to exceed expectations.

    From the young secondary to the unlikely duo in the backfield, New England has been one of the most surprising teams in the NFL this season.

    Even though the Patriots boast the best record in football, there are still some questions that must be answered if they hope to travel to Cowboys Stadium in February.

    The talent is there, but in a league filled with parity, Bill Belichick's team must strive for perfection week-to-week.

    Here's a look at 10 things the New England Patriots must do to become Super Bowl champs.

No. 10: Secure Homefield Advantage

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    The easiest way for the Patriots to make the Super Bowl starts with winning out to finish the regular season.

    With three winnable games remaining, New England has an excellent chance to finish the season with a 14-2 record.

    A roster filled with young players occupying key roles makes it imperative the Pats' lock up homefield heading into the playoffs.

No. 9: Pittsburgh and Baltimore Need to Falter

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    The fall of the New York Jets leaves Pittsburgh and Baltimore as the most formidable foes in the AFC.

    New England has already defeated both the Steelers and Ravens this season, but both teams present problems for the Patriots.

    The road to the Super Bowl will be much easier for Tom Brady if it doesn't have to go through both Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

No. 8: Young Cornerbacks Can't Get Burned

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    Pittsburgh and Baltimore both have the weapons on the outside to expose the Pats' biggest vulnerability.

    Devin McCourty, Darius Butler and Kyle Arrington have showed steady improvement throughout the season.

    Despite the ability to create turnovers, New England's pass defense ranks last in the NFL in yards allowed.

    That could be a problem against teams with dynamic passing attacks.

No. 7: Receivers Need to Make Plays

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    Who needs a legitimate deep threat when you have quick receivers who can run after the catch?

    Throughout Tom Brady's run in New England, the Pats' have consistently produced fantastic YAC numbers that have helped the offense flourish.

    This year has been no exception, with Deion Branch providing unexpected contributions after being acquired from the Seahawks.

    Even if production doesn't come from a true vertical game, the Patriots will need to generate yards through the air.

No. 6: Keep Running The Ball With Success

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    Danny Woodhead has practically reached cult status in his first season in the NFL, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been the primary savior of the Patriots' running game this season.

    After been forced into extended duty with Fred Taylor banged up, Green-Ellis has consistently been one of the more productive backs in the NFL.

    Meanwhile, Woodhead has provided a nice change of pace and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

    If both players keep playing well, the Patriots' offense will be difficult for any defense to stop.

No. 5: Tom Brady Needs To Lead

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    He doesn't do it often, but when Tom Brady loses his temper it clearly has an impact on his teammates.

    His most notable outburst this season came in the win over the Steelers, when he ripped his offensive line early in the game.

    After that little exchange, the Patriots' offense suddenly began clicking on all cylinders.

    With inexperienced players and misfits all around him, the face of the Pats' franchise needs to help guide his young teammates to the Super Bowl.

No. 4: The Hoodie Needs to Lead

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    Bill Belichick's no-nonsense approach is perfect for a young team like the Patriots.

    As the season winds down and the stakes get considerably higher, the Hoodie will need to lead his young players and keep them grounded.

    It's entirely possible 2010 will go down as Belichick's best coaching job yet.

No. 3: Stay Healthy

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    Aside from some injuries on the defensive side of the ball and the loss of Fred Taylor, the Patriots have managed to stay fairly healthy this season.

    Knock on wood...

    Barring an unthinkable injury to Tom Brady or a costly setback to another key cog in the Pats' attack, the dream of a Super Bowl run could soon become a reality.

No. 2: Tom Brady Needs to Play Like an MVP

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    Aside from possibly Michael Vick, no single player has meant more to his team this season than Tom Brady.

    It hasn't always been pretty, but Brady has managed to put up MVP-caliber numbers while leaning on a host of unproven and overachieving players.

    If the Patriots want to win the Super Bowl, Tom Brady won't be able to have any type of letdown.

No. 1: Youth Needs to Be Served

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    With inexperienced players on both offense and defense, the fate of the New England Patriots will come down to the performance of the supporting cast.

    Since youth is the common theme of this year's Patriots squad, it won't be easy to predict what the future has in store in one of the most unpredictable NFL seasons in recent memory.

    No matter how many questions they have, it's difficult to argue against a team that just keeps finding ways to win.

    Don't be surprised if the Pats fight and scratch their way into the Super Bowl.