Next year’s Pats will be as good

By Kyle Betts

I’m pretty tired of all the Super Bowl-O-Rama-A-Palooza, fluff-puff, cookie-cutter stories that we’ve been hearing the last two weeks. “Patriots going for the perfect record.” “Eli versus Brady.” “Plaxico Burress talking trash.” Yadda, yadda, yadda. To tell you the truth, I’ll be a lot happier when this game is just a memory on NFL Films.

We all know what is on the line for GQ QB Tom Brady and the Patriots– – it’s been the lead story since Week 1.

This Patriots team is the best football team I have ever seen in my life, and many will say it is the best ever, even if it loses the Super Bowl. I fully expect the Patriots to beat the Giants this Sunday, however, and cement themselves in NFL lore as the greatest team to ever take the field.

But this isn’t news to anyone. It’s old. It’s boring. It’s what people expect to happen. That’s why I don’t care about this NFL season anymore. I’m already focusing on the next big story: “The New England Patriots put together back-to-back undefeated seasons.”

Crazy? For sure. Stupid? Probably. Impossible? Definitely not.

Watching Bill Belichick and his smug attitude toward the press and lack of respect for opposing teams has not been something I’ve enjoyed this year. He makes the Patriots very hard to like, but barring any serious injuries to key players next season, I think the Patriots have a legitimate shot at going undefeated again.

First, the Patriots will have one of the statistically easiest schedules in the 2008 season based off of 2007 results. The teams in their division (Buffalo, New York Jets, Miami) all had rough seasons, with the Bills seeming to be the only team that didn’t regress. Then, based off of the NFL divisional schedule rotation, the Patriots will be playing all four teams from the AFC West and NFC West – two of the worst divisions in football this year. Finally, they will also have matchups against the Colts and Steelers. With such a simple schedule, there seem to be only three or four challenging games for Brady & Co. next season.

As for free agency, the Patriots will most likely lose Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel who will leave the team for big money elsewhere. Randy Moss is also a free agent after this season, but Moss’ desire to win and play with Brady will most likely give the Patriots a hometown discount in any bidding war. I can’t see Moss leaving, though, and having to relive his Oakland Raiders nightmare.

The defense will also most likely lose linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau to retirement – they both want to end their career on top and are starting to show their age at a tough position – so don’t be surprised if the Patriots aggressively pursue a top-market free agent to fill the holes at linebacker. Can somebody say Lance Briggs?

The Patriots can also look to the draft to shore up the defense, since they own the No. 7 overall pick which they received in a trade with the 49ers – yes, a team that is undefeated and going to the Super Bowl will have a top 10 draft pick. They will most likely get a shot to draft the top cornerback or linebacker available.

The most frighting part about next season’s Patriots, though, is that they are returning their whole starting offensive line. The line provided the protection for Brady that allowed him to have one of the best seasons for a quarterback in NFL history. It’s easy to look good when no one can sack you.

Although the losses on the defensive side of the ball will create some question marks for this team next season, the whole offense is largely staying together and will have another year under a Belichick system that set the NFL record for most points scored in a season.

I’m no Patriots fan. I do hate them because they’re beautiful. But they play with confidence and a professional swagger that I’ve never seen before, and they could very well be in this exact same spot one year from now at 37-0.

Of course by then it will be old news, and we will want to start talking about three undefeated seasons in a row.

OK, that’s just dumb.

Kyle Betts is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]