(The PatsiCheats are totally delusional. - mesa)
Patriots can be king of all eras
By Rick Gosselin / Dallas Morning News | Sunday, June 14, 2009 | http://www.bostonherald.com
| NFL Coverage
Thirty-one teams are seeking an NFL championship in 2009. A 32nd team is seeking history.
With three Lombardi Trophies in the 2000s, the Patriots [team stats] have staked a claim as the NFL’s team of the decade. A fourth Super Bowl and 12 more regular-season victories in 2009 would allow the Patriots to stake their claim as the team for all decades.
The Pats joined the 1972 Miami Dolphins [team stats] as the only teams in NFL history to play a perfect regular season, posting a 16-0 mark in 2007. The Patriots also matched the feat of the 1990s Cowboys by winning three Super Bowls in a span of four years (2001-04).
Another Super Bowl in 2009 would allow the Patriots to match the 1970s Steelers and 1980s 49ers with four titles in a decade. A 12-victory regular season would give the Pats 114 wins in the decade, breaking the NFL mark of 113 set by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1990s.
The Patriots are loaded, again, and the return of a healthy Tom Brady [stats] makes them the team to beat in 2009. So we’ll place Bill Belichick’s crew atop our annual offseason rankings.
Only three teams finished in the NFL’s top 10 in offense and defense last season, and you can find them in the top three slots of these power rankings:
1. Patriots - With Brady on the field, the Patriots have won 23 of their last 25 games. The Patriots also have the game’s most prolific tandem of wideouts in Pro Bowlers Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
2. NY Giants - The Giants finished ninth in the league in run defense and sixth in sacks last year without their best lineman, Osi Umenyiora. Now he’s back. If they can replace WR Plaxico Burress with rookies Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden, they should be the team to beat in the NFC.
3. Philadelphia - The Eagles have finally decided to see how good Donovan McNabb could be with legitimate weapons on the flank, using premium draft choices on speedy WRs DeSean Jackson in ’08 and Jeremy Maclin in ’09.
4. Pittsburgh - The Steelers captured a record sixth Lombardi Trophy last season, but an inability to block led to the season-long pummeling of QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Willie Parker. Pittsburgh has some young blockers who need to develop quickly.
5. San Diego - The Chargers were another team that overachieved last season, overcoming a 4-8 start to win the AFC West, despite the season-long absence of Shawne Merriman. LaDainian Tomlinson is starting to show signs of age, but QB Philip Rivers is maturing.
6. Atlanta - Matt Ryan won 11 games last season on his way to NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Ryan could be even more effective this year with TE Tony Gonzalez.
7. Baltimore - The Ravens lost Pro Bowl linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard in free agency from the NFL’s No. 2-ranked defense. But the biggest loss may be defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.
8. Tennessee - How much faith do you have in Kerry Collins? He’s been rewarded with a contract extension, all but writing off the onetime face of the franchise, Vince Young.
9. Indianapolis - The Colts have won 101 games this decade, one fewer than the Patriots, and need 13 to break San Francisco’s mark. Peyton Manning is back, but head coach Tony Dungy is not. That’s a huge hit.
10. Arizona - Are the Cardinals for real after participating in their first Super Bowl? Well, they have Kurt Warner and if they can keep him healthy, they can contend again.
11. Carolina - The age of QB Jake Delhomme (34) and the unsettled contract situation of DE Julius Peppers casts a shadow over what is an otherwise talented team..
12. Houston - The Texans have been around since 2002 but have not managed a winning season. This should be their breakthrough year.
13. Chicago - What a difference a quarterback makes. By acquiring Pro Bowler Jay Cutler from the Broncos, the Bears have the best quarterbacking in the NFC North for the first time since the Jim McMahon era in the 1980s. But the Bears need to regroup on defense.
14. New Orleans - The Saints have the best offense in the NFL. But great offense, plus no defense equals a noncontender.
15. Miami - The Dolphins’ creative offense and the pass rush of Joey Porter and Jason Taylor will keep the defending the AFC East champs competitive.
16. Green Bay - The Packers figured to struggle in 2008 without Brett Favre. Aaron Rodgers played better than expected, but the defense collapsed
17. Dallas - Terrell Owens’ departure could and probably should trigger a philosophical shift on offense to the running game. In Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, Dallas has the ability to be a top-5 rushing attack.
18. Minnesota - The Vikings are left with the worst quarterbacking in the division. (Favre anyone?) But Minnesota has the best defense and best RB in Adrian Peterson.
19. Washington - The Redskins tried to draft Mark Sanchez in April. Having failed, the Redskins turned the job back over to Jason Campbell with a lack-of-confidence vote.
20. Jacksonville - The Jaguars finally found a lead receiver for QB David Garrard in Torry Holt. Unfortunately, at 33, Holt’s best years are behind him.
21. Cincinnati - The Bengals lost an NFL-high 84 games by starters because of injury in 2008, including 12 by QB Carson Palmer. Little wonder they won only four games.
22. Buffalo - Another T.O. era begins, this time in Buffalo, where crueler weather conditions - windier, wetter, colder - will probably mean more dropped passes by the King of the Drops.
23. NY Jets - The Jets went the old-quarterback route in 2008 with Favre. They are going with rookie Sanchez this season. Rex Ryan’s real problem though is overhauling a defense that allowed a division-high 356 points last season.
24. San Francisco - The 49ers take four quarterbacks to camp: Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, Damon Huard and rookie Nate Davis. Can they win with any of them?
25. Cleveland - The Browns fired GM Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel but, surprisingly, kept QB Brady Quinn and WR Braylon Edwards. The headache is now Eric Mangini’s.
26. Seattle - Mike Holmgren is gone, replaced by Jim Mora and his defensive mind. Seattle could use a little more ‘D,’ after finishing 30th in the NFL.
27. Oakland - By drafting WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, S Mike Mitchell and DE Slade Norris, the Raiders will be a much faster team in 2009. The jury is still out on QB JaMarcus Russell.
28. Detroit - Anything the 0-16 Lions achieve under new coach Jim Schwartz and No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford will be an improvement. .
29. Tampa Bay - The faces of the Bucs defense for a decade - coordinator Monte Kiffin and linebacker Derrick Brooks - are gone. So is any hope of Tampa Bay sniffng the playoffs.
30. Denver - So much for the lifetime security in Denver that Mike Shanahan seemed to snare with those back-to-back Super Bowl victories in the late 1990s. A lack of defense cost him his job in 2008. Young Josh McDaniels gives it a go now.
31. St. Louis - Having failed with offensive gurus Mike Martz and Scott Linehan this decade, the Rams hired defensive whiz Steve Spagnuolo away from the Giants as head coach.
32. Kansas City - Scott Pioli is the new GM, Todd Haley the new coach and Matt Cassel the new quarterback. The face of the franchise and most reliable weapon, Gonzalez, was traded to Atlanta. This will be a very steep climb.