Can the NFL prevent a New England Patriots repeat?
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By now everyone outside of New England is sick of hearing just how good the Patriots are. The franchise has won 5 titles in the past two decades and shows no signs of slowing down. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will eventually retire and teams can get back to winning, right? New England can’t stay on top forever, can they? After winning Super Bowl 51, the Pats showed just how dominant they can be but can they repeat next season?
New England proved it’ll take a lot more than a suspension to keep the team down. Not only did Tom Brady come back with a vengeance, his backup quarterbacks held the team afloat with a 3-1 record while he was gone. With backups like that they very well could be competitive long after the future Hall of Famer is gone. So how can teams knock off the Patriots in the 2017-2018 season?
First and foremost a large Achilles heel was exposed for the Patriots during these playoffs. Once Tom Brady starts to feel the pressure of the pass rush it takes him out of his rhythm. Flashback to the game against the Texans and Brady had one of his more disappointing performances in the win. Houston got to the quarterback early and often and it showed. Originally Brady fell in the draft due to his footwork and inability to scramble. The former 6th round pick became a student of the game and developed a career like no other. However, if pass rushers can get to him enough he can be beaten.
Atlanta showed that in the first half of the Super Bowl then soon forgot it. Poor Falcons fans. This is the second of two Super Bowls where teams failed to seal the deal against Belichick and the Patriots. Seattle should have handed Brady a loss but chose to pass instead of using their league leading running back Marshawn Lynch.
Again on Super Bowl Sunday, the Falcons over thought and lost the game. As a coach, you can defend passing the football. However, with just over three minutes left with that big of a lead never should you drop back that much against a super bowl caliber team. If the Falcons were going to pass it should have been quick slants, screens or dump offs. You live by the pass and die by it as well. Run the football in that scenario and kick the field goal and the game is over. Instead, they insisted on trying to make the big play to seal the game. It backfired, miserably.
Next season won’t do the Patriots any favors either. Their schedule is littered with playoff teams, teams on the rise, and their every pesky division rivals. 2017 will be the year of the rematch for New England. They’ll play their playoff opponents Pittsburg, Houston, and Atlanta next season. Throw in Miami, Oakland and Kansas City who were all in the playoffs. Will players like JJ Watt, Ryan Tannehill, and Derek Carr be healthy enough to help unseat the Pats?
You also have to take into consideration the teams who underperformed but were on the rise. Add teams like Denver, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and always dangerous New Orleans to the mix. If any year was the year for the Patriots to struggle it’ll be 2017. Teams need to think long and hard about their draft and how to beat Tom Brady. He shows no signs of aging and will get back a healthy Rob Gronkowski. The uphill battle is going to be a tough one but it can be done.