EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 1, 2008

Breaking down the Patriots and Giants

Patriots Strengths

1. The most lethal force in football history — Tom Brady, Randy Moss and the passing game — have made a mockery of the record books. No NFL team, and that includes the Giants, has been able to stop the New England passing attack. To throw 50 TD passes in a season, with the weather this team fought through in December, borders on the miraculous.

2. Playmakers where they count — Quarterback with Brady, game-breaking receiver with Moss, pass rusher with Mike Vrabel, left tackle with Matt Light, shut-down corner with Asante Samuel, and run-stuffer with nose tackle Vince Wilfork. New England has all the high-impact positions covered with these six Pro Bowl starters.

3. Bill Belichick — This champion thing is a learned science, and nobody has picked it up more completely than Belichick, who as Rodney Harrison said this week, "never overlooks any detail."

4. Super savvy — If any collection of athletes knows what it takes to win a Super Bowl in this era, it is the New England Patriots. This team has battled game-day attrition, forcing the likes of Antwan Harris, Je'rod Cherry, Hank Poteat and converted linebacker Don Davis into the secondary during the past three Super Bowl wins. People like to point to the fact that the Super Bowl wins were by 3 points, but remember, they are all wins.

5. Destiny — You just don't go 18-0 and lose in the greatest game of them all. This team has done everything the right way. Why stop now?

Patriots Weaknesses

1. Aging talent — The starting linebackers are 30, 32, 34 and 39 years old, dinosaurs among NFL ranks. At some point, the legs have to go.

2. Standing on the corner — As good as Asante Samuel is on one side the field, Ellis Hobbs is clearly a deficiency on the other. At times, Hobbs has been replaced by Randall Gay, who lacks consistency.

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