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Good enough...anymore?

By Dave Serna

Are the Patriots good enough to go deep into the playoff?
My personal opinion is no.
Of course we all have opinions, no need to any further than that.
I believe that the end of an era of Patriots dominance is upon us.
Since the year 2000 after the Patriots had gone a dismal 5-11, New England has earned more than respect as on of the best teams this decade.
What it took was a leader in Drew Bledsoe to go down, and let another take his place.
The Pats, for most of their playing lives, or as long as I have been around have been attempting to gain some sort of respect year after year. Making it to two Super bowls (XX losing to the Bears 46-10) (XXXI losing to the Packers 35-21) which pretty much said that these teams did not belong.
When Bledsoe was lost for the season in 2001 and Brady took over it might have been seen as another terrible season was only around the corner. How many opportunities come along in your life time that you need take advantage of?
Brady took full advantage.
In a ten year span including last season with Cassel at the helm, the Pats are 111-47 with their win against Buffalo last week, three Superbowl wins, MVP awards to Brady and even though a loss to the Giants was the only blemish in and undefeated season, an 18-1 season is nothing to cry to much about.
But even last season at 11-5 the Patriots went without a playoff appearance.
Why? Other teams are catching up finally.
Even though the Patriots are a win away from clinching a playoff spot this year, it seems to be getting more and more difficult and less impressive as time goes on.
This is natural, isn't it?
The Pats are in first place and Brady is still a threat to his favorite receiver's, Welker and Moss, they have established a running game and the team looks pretty solid with the exception of the defense which used too dominate all.
Brady's numbers are also pretty darn good, equal or close in numbers to most years.
But now there are others, that are just as good if not better.
Even in New England's division. The Jets and Miami and even Buffalo were gnawing at New England's heels up till just recent.
Arizona, another team looking for respect for many years have now, after their Superbowl appearances may be back for another shot.
The Eagles finally have Donavan Mcnabb for a whole year..so far.
The Vikings with beginning of the year joke Brett Favre at the helm are now a serious contender.
The Bengals are also ready to make a statement coupled with last years Superbowl Champ Steelers stumbles.
The Chargers after last nights win against the Titans are back again, the question as always is How far? Even the Titans had a shot after a disastrous start.
The Saints are not who you think they are, in a good way. These guys are ready to push to the next level.
And Of course how can you not add a Payton Manning machine in the mix. The Colts are undefeated as of now and not much looks to stop them. Wins are wins no matter how you get them, close or not. If you give the ball to Manning with a minute on the clock, your not safe.
After all the teams that have been mentioned, where do the Pats stack up?
Are they still competitors and do they have a shot at putting another trophy in the case?
Not at this point. There are too many others out there now that have a chance at the same thing.
As I said before though, this is just my opinion and yes I am a Patriots fan.
The playing field has finally leveled out, and yes the Pats are in the mix.
This is the NFL of course and you better be ready to play that day.
Even the Lions get a win now and then.
But gone are the 16-0, 14-2 regular seasons, locking up the playoffs early and maybe home field advantage, where the Pats did most of their damage to other showing up in New England...invited of course.
There still is armour on this team, and it may be stronger than I think, but the dents are showing a little more now than they used too.
We shall see.

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