June 4, 2007


Dynasty developing: My early Super Bowl pick and more NFL nuggets (Peter King, June 4, 2007, Sports Illustrated)

The Patriots, quite simply, have had the best offseason of any team in the free-agency era since the Packers stole Reggie White in 1993 and he became the best recruiter in the NFL. Even if Randy Moss is cut before the first game, the New England offense is dramatically better because Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth give the Pats the kind of talent at receiver they've never had in the Belichick Era. And Adalius Thomas will prove to be an excellent player and better leader.

New England missed out on its fourth Super Bowl title in six years -- I don't think the Bears would have played the Patriots any better than they played the Colts in the Super Bowl -- when Brady threw an interception in the final minute of the AFC title game at Indy. So the easy, and logical, thing to say is New England has loaded up where it was weak and will get over the Colt hump this year.

One problem. I still don't know if the Patriots' defense can get off the field in key spots. I know they allowed the second-fewest points in the league last year (14.8 per game), but they allowed 65 in two games to the Colts -- and were absolutely terrible in the second half of the AFC title game. Thirty-two points, 311 yards ... in one half. They melted. And that's what I kept coming back to. As I sit here the first week of June, I'm unconvinced they have the linebacking backbone to hold Peyton Manning to enough three-and-outs in the second half of a big game.

The Colts? I hate how much they've lost on defense. I know what you're saying -- without Nick Harper and Jason David, they're going to be too thin to withstand the bombs thrown at them. But Tony Dungy tells me Manning has lost absolutely nothing of his Jeteresque drive to be great day in and day out. I just think, as they did last year, Dungy and defensive coordinator Ron Meeks will figure out how to be scrappy on defense. They could really use Corey Simon's contribution, though no one knows yet if that will happen.

Feb. 3, 2008, in the desert: Colts 44, Saints 37.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 4, 2007 12:02 AM

It's odd how the NFL conferences dominate each other. The 70's were all AFC, except for the Cowboys. The 80's and half the 90's were all NFC except for the Raiders. Since the Packers' title in 96, it's been all AFC except for the one-time breakthroughs by the BUcs and Rams. We've probably got five more years of AFC dominance before it switches again.

Posted by: Brandon at June 4, 2007 11:36 AM