The Baltimore Ravens are your Super Bowl champions! I know, it’s a little late but I had to write last week in “tribute” to Ray Lewis. But with the Ravens holding the rights to call themselves Super Bowl champions until next February, the debate now begins. Who is the favorite to win in next year? The opening odds to win the 2014 Super Bowl have the Patriots at 6-1, Niners at 7-1, Broncos 8-1, Packers and Texans 10-1, Seahawks 12-1, Steelers and Ravens 14-1. Once again the Patriots are the opening favorites; last season they opened at 6-1 along with the Packers and Niners.
Two seasons ago, they opened at 7-1 along with the Packers. Three seasons ago, both the Patriots and Packers opened at 4-1. So, you get the point. Oddsmakers love the Patriots every single year. But why wouldn’t they? How could you bet against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? In his career, Tom Brady has won over 77 percent of the regular season games he’s played. Every year, no matter who he’s throwing to, he has been excellent. The Patriots are the opening favorites, yet again; and yet again, I’m not buying it. In fact, I believe that Tom Brady will not win another Super Bowl with the Patriots.
Tom Brady is 35 years old, and will be 36 by the time the season begins in September. Not to say that 36 is too old to win, all I’m saying is that he’s getting up there and his clock is ticking.
He hasn’t won since 2005. Once again, that doesn’t defy the rest of his career. After all, Ray Lewis won in 2001 and then again 12 years later. However, the Patriots no longer have that winning swagger that they carried throughout the 2000s.
Lack of competitive edge. Tom Brady is one of the most competitive players to ever step on the field, but he can’t do it by himself. The New England Patriots are missing players with an edge similar to Brady’s. (Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Deion Branch, etc.)
The expansion of talent in the rest of league. There are more teams in the league now that have what it takes to win a Super Bowl. The AFC in particular has improved; Brady used to only fear Peyton and the Colts in the AFC. Now he has to worry about Flacco (Ravens), Roethlisberger (Steelers), Texans (Schaub), Manning (Broncos), Luck (Colts), and even Dalton (Bengals). And that’s just the AFC.
Tom Brady won his first 10 playoff games, but he’s just 7-7 since then. Tom Brady didn’t get any worse, the team around him did. Similar thing happened to Troy Aikman; he went 7-1 in his first eight playoff games and then 4-4 after that. The Cowboys team around him changed, Troy didn’t. Teams don’t fear New England like they used to. Baltimore went into New England in January this year and beat the Patriots by 15 points. They almost did the same last January. That would have been unthinkable about ten years ago. Not anymore.
Their defense isn’t feared by anyone. This year they ranked 25th in the league in total defense. Last year, they ranked 31st. Two years ago, 25th. You get the point; there defense is not good anymore, in fact, it is pretty bad. In comparison, the Patriots had the 7th best defense when they won in 2004. In 2005, they were ranked 9th and won another Super Bowl. That’s a HUGE difference, Tom Brady can’t play defense!!
So, is there anything the Patriots can do to help Brady get another ring? Well, here’s the situation. They need help; they cannot win with this roster. But can they get help? Currently, Tom Brady, Logan Mankins, and Vince Wilfork make up roughly 35 percent of the Patriots salary cap for 2013. That’s no waste of money because those are three players vital to the Patriots’ success. However, they don’t have the money they need to spend.
They want to keep Wes Welker and they want to add another receiver. I don’t see them holding onto Brandon Lloyd; he didn’t prove to be the deep threat they were looking for. But even if they keep Welker, add another receiver, and have the tight end duo of Hernandez and Gronkowski, they still don’t have defense. And they’re not going to be able to draft much either. The Patriots, known for piling up draft picks, only have four picks in the upcoming draft in April. They traded away their fourth, fifth, and sixth round picks for Aqib Talib, Albert Haynesworth, and Chad Johnson, respectively. And only Talib really brought much value to the Patriots.
Regardless of all this, the Patriots somehow opened with the best odds of winning the 2014 Super Bowl. It’ll be interesting to see their odds come September when the preseason odds come out, after free agency and the draft have been played out. I would expect the odds to still be good, but not quite as good. Regardless, Tom Brady will not win another Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. I’ll say it again. Tom Brady will not win another Super Bowl with the New England Patriots.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next week when I’ll give my early predictions for the 2013-14 NFL Season!