A lot went right for the New England Patriots yesterday, as they toppled a Vince Young-led Philadelphia Eagles team 38-20 on the road. Tom Brady continued his ascent on the NFL’s single-season passing-yardage list, throwing for 361 yards and three touchdowns to pass Johnny Unitas on the all-time wins list (not a bad day’s work).
Wes Welker and Deion Branch were involved in the offense, compiling 115 and 125 receiving yards, respectively. Rob Gronkowski had a touchdown, as usual. The defense even played well for much of the game. The Pats are now tied for the best record in the AFC and sit firmly atop their division.
Yet my confidence is waning.
As I watch the Patriots offense, I see that little can go wrong. Tom Brady is so good, and has so many weapons, it’s almost impossible to defend against the pass. Benjarvus Green-Ellis, while not sensational, runs hard and doesn’t cough the ball up (he had two touchdowns yesterday). The offensive line has been decent as of late, despite starting a third-string center. But the defense... man, what are we going to do about this damned defense?
The first drive of yesterday’s game was case in point. Vince Young attacked from the get-go, leading the Eagles up the field for a touchdown on the back of two huge passing plays. If Vince Young is capable of carving up this secondary, I can only imagine what Aaron Rodgers would do. Or Drew Brees. Or Matt Ryan. You get the idea.
While I’m often cited as being overly optimistic about the championship chances of Boston’s sports team, this is one season in which I am assuredly pessimistic. With the easiest road in the league from here on out, the Patriots seem destined to end the season at 13-3 or 12-4. They’ll likely get a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage.
But I can’t get around foreseeing another early playoff exit for the Patriots. Even as their confidence grows and the wins rack up, come the playoffs they’ll have to face the best teams in the league. The Patriots inability to stop opposing quarterbacks will be their downfall, and another year in Tom Brady’s prime will be wasted.
Sure, this sounds very negative. But I don’t see any way around it. Maybe Billy B has a magic cornerback rabbit up his sleeve, because at this point, as a New England fan, I feel like that’s just about all I can hope for.
Geoff Roberts is the Founder and Managing Editor of howiGit.com, a Boston sports blog.