Super Bowl Predictions: 10 Reasons the New England Patriots Won't Win It All
The New England Patriots finished with the NFL's best record in 2010, and are the favorite of many to win Super Bowl XLV in North Texas this February despite having played a single playoff game yet.
There is no doubt that the Patriots are worthy of the praise they have received. However three other AFC teams still remain in New England's path, each with a unique strength of their own.
The Pats have looked like champions on several occasions this season, but they have shown weakness in their only two losses as well.
No the Patriots are not perfect, but neither is any other NFL team. Regardless, here are 10 reasons why New England won't be going home with the Lombardi Trophy this winter.
Despite having the league's most explosive offense, the Patriots have witnessed their fair share of offensive dry spells.
New England scored just 14 points in each of their losses, both of which were on the road (New England will be playing at home throughout the AFC playoffs as the conference's No. 1 overall seed).
In those two losses they were beaten by an average of 17 points. Thus proving that they can be scored on (we'll get to that in a minute).
Surprisingly, the Pats only rank 11th in the league in passing offense, while they sport the NFL's ninth ranked rushing attack. See, not perfect.
The New England pass defense has been almost nonexistent in 2010, ranking 30th in the league. The Patriots, on average, give up nearly 260 yards through the air in a ball game.
It's no big shocker that with Tom Brady the Pats can pass against anyone, but defensively, to allow teams to throw the ball with such little resistance could prove fatal in the postseason.
The only team to beat Tom Brady at home in the postseason still remains as a possible AFC Championship Game opponent for the Pats.
The Baltimore Ravens dismantled Brady's offense in last year's AFC Wild Card and always give the Patriots fits.
Even if it's not the Ravens moving in the title game, both the Steelers and the Jets possess talented defenses with very little flaws.
New York has also already beaten New England once this season (though it seems like it was forever ago, the Pats still had Randy Moss).
Who wouldn't want a week to rest before the divisional playoffs? Perhaps the New England Patriots, who were cruising on an eight game-winning streak before sitting out the first week of the postseason.
We've seen in the past how bye weeks have affected top teams. Both the Chargers and Ravens (No.1 and No. 2) lost as home teams with byes in the 2006 playoffs. And they weren't the only ones.
No Randy Moss
The Patriots' offense has looked even more frightening since the departure of disgruntled wide receiver Randy Moss, however not all is fine and dandy.
New England lost a huge downfield threat in Moss as well as someone who demanded top-cornerback attention and a double team on most occasions.
Moss' presence at wide out will be missed more than anything else he brought to New England.
Rex Ryan's Defense
Rex Ryan and the Jets were embarrassed on Monday Night Football in Week 13 when they were beaten in Foxboro by a score of 45-3.
Sunday's match up will be much different however. New York's defense will have two meetings in which to study the Pats' offense. Also, we all know that yards are harder to come by in the postseason.
Remember, the Jets ranked sixth in the league against the pass in 2010, and third against the run. The loss of safety Jim Leonhard certainly hurts, but still the Jets' D limited Peyton Manning and the Colts' offense to just 16 points at home last weekend.
2009 AFC Wild Card
If the Baltimore Ravens' wild card win over the Pats last season teaches us anything, it's that New England can be beaten at home in the playoffs. Heck, they can even be blown out.
Baltimore created a blueprint for beating Brady at Foxboro last season when they brought constant pressure up the middle disrupting Brady's time in the pocket.
The result was a rushed offense that never seemed to get in a groove. If any opposing team has success with this game plan than New England's defense would be called on to keep them in the game (not exactly their calling card in 2010).
New England has a plethora of talent at the tight end position this season. So why is it bad if they get thrown to a lot?
Mainly because it means the Patriots' receivers aren't getting free in the opponent's secondary. New England tight end Aaron Hernandez presents a unique stat regarding the Patriots' overall team success.
In the four games in which Hernandez has been the Pats' leading receiver, New England is just 2-2. Also, in those four games, the Patriots were outscored 112-89.
This is not a knock on Hernandez or to say that the Patriots can't win if they have to do it with their tight ends, just that sometimes it's possible to have too many targets.
Though the regular season would have you believe otherwise, the Pats' have a very young and somewhat inexperienced team.
New England's defense has been lead by many new faces, and the Patriots' back field is comprised of two talented, but unproven backs.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead have both had phenomenal seasons for the Pats, however the playoffs are very different. They won't be staring at the Bills' defense on Sunday afternoon.
Another question facing the Pats is whether or not their young defense will be able to play mistake-free football in the postseason.
Though it's likely an afterthought by many, four of New England's top five leaders in tackles play in the secondary.
Starting corners Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington are third and fourth with 82 and 71 tackles respectively, while starting safeties Pat Chung and Brandon Meriweather are second and fifth with 96 and 68 tackles respectively.
Only linebacker Jerod Mayo has more tackles than those four players. The fact that the Pats' secondary leads the defense in tackles means either of two things. New England's back four are otherworldly in the running game or they simply give up too any big passing plays forcing the secondary to make tackles.
This point has been brought up time and time again concerning the Patriots, however it can't be ignored. New England's last line of defense has been called on far too often this season. Previous Super Bowl champions will tell you that a dominant front seven is a must in order to win it all.
Patrick Clarke is a student at Towson University and a writing intern for Bleacher Report.