For the first half of the 2010 season, I thought the New England Patriots were yesterday's champions. Sure, they were 6-2, but they were pulling out some tight games. Games that maybe they shouldn't have won like against the Ravens in overtime.
Nothing wrong with winning close games. Great teams do it all the time. But the Patriots had just traded Randy Moss and reacquired Deion Branch. Looked to me like they were trying to reach back to the past to find some former glory. And some of their new offensive weapons were guys named Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. And forget about the defense. I couldn't name one guy on that unit and they were giving up their share of big plays and points.
They ended the first half of the season by getting spanked by the Cleveland Browns, 34-14, and I was more convinced than ever that New England was a former champion who had seen its better days.
I remember a Steelers game from many years ago. It was in 1987 and the Steelers were putting one on the San Fransisco 49ers. The Niners were a dominant team in the early-to-mid 80's, winning a couple of Super Bowls, but it looked like maybe their dominance was ending. In fact, I remember the tv announcer saying something like, "The sun might be setting on this great 49er's era." They still had Montana, and Jerry Rice was just coming into his own, but the 49ers were three years removed from their last Super Bowl parade. The sun did look like it might be setting on their greatness.
Well, San Fransisco went on to win the Super Bowl in 1988 and 1989. So much for that sun set.
And that brings me back to New England. Just when it looked like they were going to fade into the background of the NFL, they came into Heinz field in week 9 and totally outclassed the Steelers, 39-26.
They have not looked back since. Offensively, they haven't scored less than 31 points since that Cleveland fiasco, and now the defense that appeared to be a weakness is starting to catch up to the offense.
In the last two games, the Patriots have rolled over two playoff contenders by a whopping total of 91-10. That's pretty scary, and it's giving me flashbacks to New Englands's 2007 campaign.
They went undefeated in the regular season and racked up 589 points offensively. Their average margin of victory was almost 20 points a game.
I know we all rejoiced in the streets when the Giants knocked off the Patriots in the Super Bowl that year, but that New England team was still one of the most dominant of all time.
As a diehard fan, I had no confidence that my Steelers would be able to do much against the Patriots in the postseason in 2007. Especially after Pittsburgh went to New England and got totally owned late in the year.
After that disaster at Heinz a few weeks ago and as impressive as New England has looked in recent weeks, I'm beginning to feel that way again.
I'm not saying that the 2010 Patriots are as good and dominant as the 2007 team and they certainly have their flaws, but relative to the rest of their 2010 competition, I'm beginning to wonder if anyone can stop them this year.