EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

November 22, 2011

Pats 'D' has time to make its run

FOXBORO — Consider last night as Week 1 of an 11-week long journey.

While the Super Bowl in Indianapolis happens to exactly coincide with the end of that journey, that's only part of it, getting there. The other part, particularly on Route 1 in Foxboro, is winning. And if you believe most of America, that is next to impossible.

The Green Bay Packers, the defending champions, are for real. They have the best player, in quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, and they are playing with a confidence most of us in these parts can recall.

They have that swagger.

As for coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots, well, they are currently in their comfort zone. They are where they've always seemed to do their best work.

Under the radar.

They are 7-3 after last night's 34-3 drubbing of the undermanned Kansas City Chiefs, but let's be honest — not many football gurus are concerned about your favorite team. They point to the Patriots defensive backfield and, well, you can't argue with them.

Most of those guys they are pointing to are practice squad-level guys, maybe backups at best, from schools like Southern Methodist, South Carolina State, UMass Amherst and Eastern Kentucky.

The beauty of these opinions is that they don't matter. Super Bowls are not won before Thanksgiving. Nobody knows that better than the 2007 Patriots.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are 1. and 1a. among the AFC teams to beat, so they say. And apparently either one of them, or even the Patriots, are expected to be easy fodder for the Packers.

As for what we learned about the Patriots last night against the Chiefs? Not much. But it bought the Patriots, particularly their defense, another week of on-the-job training.

The three points allowed, given the fact that the Chiefs, which were 27th in points scored (15.7) coming in and they were without their starting quarterback — ex-Patriot Matt Cassel is out of the year with an injury to his throwing hand — isn't a cause for celebration. But at some point, you have to wonder if the best is yet to come.

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