The League

Brandon Benson
Packers Blogger

Brandon Benson

Brandon Benson is the lead blogger at Acme Packing Company.

Credit the O-line, running game


For the last 10 years, the short answer to the question of why the Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL can be summed up by saying: Tom Brady. While his only All-Pro season was back in 2007 when he threw for 50 touchdown passes and took his team within minutes of a perfect season, he's otherwise been a model of consistency. In a typical season, he'll complete over 60 percent of his pass attempts for approximately 4,000 yards with a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio.

He won't throw 50 touchdown passes again, but he's again on pace to throw over six touchdowns for every one interception. He's only had five turnovers this season, and none since October 17. Without any turnovers, and with his teammates only committing five penalties per game, they're not hurting any of their scoring opportunities with negative plays.

The NFL isn't a superstar league like the NBA, but the quarterback is the most important position on the team. Tom Brady appears to be playing with a lot of confidence. While his teammates aren't superstars in their own right, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the Patriots offensive line are among the best players in the NFL this season. Having a running game that demands respect, and an offensive line that gives you time to throw, can make any superstar quarterback look even better. It will be interesting to see whether the cold December weather can slow down their offense, otherwise we will be talking about how the 2010 Patriots were one of the greatest offenses in NFL history.

Can the Patriots remain a dominant team with only one known superstar? With the way their offensive line has been playing, I'm not sure it's fair to them to say Brady is the team's only superstar. But while the Patriots look like the best in the NFL after two dominant wins over division leading teams, there are some problem signs on the defensive side, where they have no superstar defender who is Brady's equal. Instead they are giving up 266 passing yards per game (31st overall) and have a run defense that allows a first down on almost 25 percent of their opponents' rushing attempts. Part of the problem is that they have a defense built for the future, comprised of many players with less than three years of NFL experience.

Their next test is against the Green Bay Packers, who have one of the best defenses in the NFL. However the Bears have a great defense, and it didn't help them out much against Brady last week. The key to stopping the Patriots is to keep their offense on the sidelines, which is what the Browns did to the Patriots during their last loss. The Patriots won't remain a dominate team if their defense can't get off the field.

While they're the best team in the NFL as of mid-December, they do have some question marks to answer if they want to become a Super Bowl champion in February.

By Brandon Benson  |  December 15, 2010; 10:50 AM ET  | Category:  AFC , NFL , New England Patriots , Tom Brady Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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