Tom Brady is the best quarterback alive.
After losing all of the 2008 season to a knee injury, Brady came back strong in 2009, then had a season for the ages in 2010.
He threw for 3,900 yards, 36 touchdowns and a ridiculously low four interceptions last year. Most importantly, he led his team to 12 wins in the regular season and yet another AFC East title.
Brady and the Pats went into the playoffs looking invincible, like nothing could slow them down. Then, of course, the high flying New York Jets pressured Brady and his receivers, using a defensive game plan eerily reminiscent of the dominant Patriots defenses of the early 2000s to send New England home early.
That loss painfully reminded the Patriots that their passing game could indeed be stopped and that there are teams and games lurking out there that will make for a tough three hours for Brady and Co.
Looking forward to the 2011 season, here are seven games that Brady will be losing sleep over in the coming months.
Going into the Black Hole isn’t easy for any quarterback, even one as good as Tom Brady.
The Raiders were second overall in opponent passing yards in 2010. That number will surely go up with the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha this offseason, but the Raiders pass defense will still be good in 2011.
Raiders fans are some of the toughest to play in front of for any team, but the Patriots bring up bad memories of The Tuck Game, which will make them even more passionate that day.
Combine what will be an undoubtedly hostile environment with the usual difficulties an East Coast team can have playing out west, and this game will be a tougher win for the Pats then it looks on paper.
This is the game that every Patriots player and fan have had circled on their calendars since the schedule came out.
The Jets showed they had the blueprint for giving Brady fits in their playoff win this past winter, and with the majority of their defensive squad coming back intact in 2011, they have the chance to do it again.
The New York/New England rivalry has quickly become one of the league’s best, so anytime these two get together, it’s going to be a hard fought, hard hitting and hard won contest.
The Pittsburgh Steelers always bring out the best in Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.
Whether it’s because they know the Steelers are a consistent contender for the ACF championship or just the fact that they love to trash talk before they play Brady, he always goes into Pittsburgh with a chip on his shoulder.
In 2010, Brady had one of his best games (a three-touchdown, 350-yard performance) against Pittsburgh in Week 10. That win propelled the Patriots to finished the remainder of the regular season without losing a game.
Pittsburgh will once again throw everything they have at him and will be a game Brady knows he won’t escape from without a few good bumps and bruises.
Round 2 baby!
And this time, the event will be on national television.
Under the bright lights, this game should put whoever wins it in the driver’s seat for the AFC East title.
Brady will have to not only face the Jets defense, but he will also have to face them on their home turf this time around.
Philadelphia is another one of the toughest places on opposing quarterbacks in the NFL, and to make matters worse for Brady, the Eagles massively upgraded their defensive secondary this offseason by adding one of the best cover corners in the league, ex-Raider Nnamdi Asumogha.
This is right around the time of the season where both teams will be looking to solidify their playoff seeds, so both will come in motivated to get the win.
The Eagles have the defense to make any quarterback really earn his yards and points, even one as good as Tom Brady.
It’s always a big game in Patriot's land when Indy comes to town.
In what is quickly becoming a league tradition, the Pats and Colts are going to meet on national television. Last year the game was a great one. I know because I was there.
The Patriots came out strong, then saw their lead evaporate by the fourth quarter. They eventually held on for the win, giving fans another great chapter in the Brady vs. Manning rivalry.
This year's game should be just as tough a win for Brady.
This game will be tough not because of the competition. The Broncos won’t have anything to play for by this time in the year, but it’s always tough to play in Denver.
Denver has historically been a tough place for the Patriots to play, they lost a playoff game in Mile High Stadium (yeah, I know it’s Invesco something or other at Mile High, but it’ll always be just Mile High to me) in 2006, and Brady overall has a terrible 1-6 career record against the Broncos.
The Patriots will need Brady to buck that trend this year if they’re going to get a win in Mile High.