“If you’re going to be a part of this organization, there’s a responsibility and a sense of obligation that comes with it, because in my family’s mind, you’re carrying our last name as well.’’
— Jonathan Kraft, August 2011
The Patriots have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. The AFC is weak, and once again the tomato cans are falling down in front of the Patriots. The window for Tom Brady is closing and these golden opportunities don’t come along every year.
Did you see anything over the weekend to discourage the prospect of the Patriots getting to New Orleans? New England is a 5-3 team (three losses by 4 points) at the midway point, but nobody looks great in the AFC. The Texans appear to be the top competition. The Patriots might have to win the AFC Championship game in Reliant Stadium. We’ll get a good read on Houston when the Texans play at Gillette Stadium Monday, Dec. 10.
The Ravens don’t scare me anymore. The Broncos are playing well and Peyton Manning looks like his old self, but John Fox cannot beat Bill Belichick. The Steelers might be coming up on the outside. They will be viewed as the new threat when the Patriots resume their season at home Sunday against the Bills.
You all know that the Patriots last week traded a fourth-round draft pick for troubled Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib. Talib can’t play for the Patriots this weekend because he’s finishing a four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Before his PED sanction, Talib had considerable trouble with teammates and cops. He is a “lawyers, guns, and money” acquisition in the spirit of Albert Haynesworth.
Most of us are OK with this now. This is professional football. It’s the best vs. the best and you cannot win without talent. Young athletes make mistakes and get second, third, and fourth chances. We are used to all of this. Seasoned Patriots fans today are more likely to worry about the value of the fourth-round pick than the perception that the franchise has morphed into Oakland Raiders East.
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