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Brian Sullivan Brian Sullivan
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Are the Patriots for real?

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Offense wins games; defense wins championships. It's a saying as old as the game of football itself and if it holds true, the New England Patriots don't have a chance this season.

On this Sunday evening as I sit writing this article, I have just watched the Pittsburgh Steelers walk all over the Pats Defense en route to a 23-17 victory.

Sidebar: I'm also watching '60 Minutes' and I feel no sympathy for the Madoff clan. There is no way you were out of the loop and didn't know what was going on - I don't feel bad for you.

So like a bad Ponzi scheme, the Patriots would like for us to invest in them in 2011, but I'm here to tell you that I think it's a lost cause.

They can't stop anyone. I could really stop there with those words because it's simple enough - if you can't get another team's offense off the field and your offense onto it, then you are in trouble. Sunday's game with the Steelers typifies that fact. In the first half the Pats offense was nowhere to be seen after an opening drive that ended up 3 and out. Ben Roethlisberger dink and dunked his way down the field, with New England opting for the Matador Ole method to let them run past on the way to a win.

Another school of thought

The best defense is a good offense, and that seems to be the philosophy in New England. However, I think the Pats offense is overrated. Long story short, you stop Wes Welker and you stop them cold. Ever since Randy Moss got voted off Belichick Island, there has been no deep threat thanks Brandon Tate not being able to catch, and that has stifled everything. Moss made Welker what he is; they were like Cagney and Lacy or Crockett and Tubbs - a dynamic duo that complemented each other's skills sets. Now, Moss is gone and so are the double teams he demanded.

For the first few weeks of this season, Welker was getting his on a regular basis, but once it went on tape the rest of the league learned all about it and they have adjusted accordingly. Therefore, it falls on the rest of the receiving core to pick up the slack.

The rest of the Brady Bunch

The tight ends are the Pats best weapon and could be the great equalizer, and linebackers cannot cover Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez one on one. Beyond those two and Welker, what are we left? Not a lot. Deion Branch still has his moments because he knows the playbook so well. But let's face it, he's old. Chad Ochocinco has been a major bust, not far removed from the Pro Bowl. To call Chad a non-factor in 2011 might be a compliment he's done zilch and he's here for next season. The running backs are a solid complementary staff headed by Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis, but the Pats throw first and for the most part run as an afterthought. Essentially, if it's not happening through the air it's not happening.

It used to be that New England was a team built around its defense. Remember 2001? Nothing but Antowain Smith, screen passes and great plays on defense. Same thing through all the Super Bowl wins - great defense. But ever since 2007 and the amazing offense, the Pats have become - I hate to say this - a finesse (GASP!) team; if you let them get rolling on offense they will score some points. If you sit back and let Tom Brady throw, you are in trouble. Still, with a predictable offense and a defense that can't make any stops at this point in 2011, I have to say the Patriots will not be playing for a Super Bowl title in February 2012.


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