Originally posted on NBC Connecticut  |  Last updated 11/8/11

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 30: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after Laurence Maroney scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Louisana Superdome on November 30, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Let's get something clear here for a moment: Despite being tied for the division lead at 5-3, the New England Patriots are still probably going to make the playoffs. Four of their last five games are against teams with losing records (including the winless Colts in the most-flexworthy Sunday Night game ever), and they still excel at beating up on hapless opponents. That's nine wins, right there, at the least. In a down year for the AFC, ten wins will likely get you a wild card spot, if not the AFC East crown. But yesterday's game against the Giants served as graphic evidence that even if the Patriots make the playoffs, they probably aren't good enough to make the Super Bowl. Why not? Four things: 1. THE DEFENSE. You already knew the defense was lousy. But Tom Brady and Wes Welker were so prolific in the first quarter of the season that the horrid yardage totals opponents piled up against New England seemed irrelevant. Now that Brady and Welker have both leveled off, there'...
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