“…it’s not always as bad as it looks, and it’s not always as good.”
Deion Branch uttered that phrase last week after New England’s embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns. Sports analysts started jumping ship after earlier proclaiming the Patriots as the best team in the NFL, and fans didn’t know what team they had. This week, after crushing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, sports analysts are jumping back on the bandwagon and proclaiming the Pats as either the best or the second-best team in the NFL. Some fans are thinking Super Bowl, while others are confused. Many are asking, “Which team are these New England Patriots? The one that was blown out by Cleveland or the one that blew away Pittsburgh?”
To answer that question, I hearken back to that quote. The Patriots aren’t as bad as what we saw against Cleveland, but they probably aren’t going to be as good as what we saw against the Steelers on a weekly basis. There are still many tough games on the schedule, and you only have to look as far as this week’s opponent- the Indianapolis Colts- to find the next big challenge. I’m not saying that the Patriots are a mediocre team. Far from it, actually. The Pats are certainly in the discussion as one of the best teams in the NFL, and they are one of the front-runners to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
However, they are, like every NFL team, a team with flaws that could rear their ugly head on any given Sunday. Depending on how the team responds to Belichick’s coaching and whatever hype surrounds them on a weekly basis will likely determine their success on Sunday. They are a young team that still will likely face some growing pains, particularly on defense. Luckily, they have a future Hall-of-Fame coach in Bill Belichick and a Hall-of-Fame QB in Tom Brady to help steer the ship. The important thing for the team, and us fans, is too not get too low after a setback or too high after a big victory. The time for big celebrations will be when the team brings home its fourth Super Bowl title.
It could come this year. Or, they could miss the playoffs. It’s one of those years in the NFL.