Three Super Bowl Titles in four years – a remarkable accomplishment. It’s a level of dominance that has only been achieved once before. It’s a triumph that has never been bested.
A twenty-one game winning streak – a feat, perhaps even more impressive. It’s a tribute to unparalleled consistency, a testament to unrivaled dedication.
These records are simply the two most impressive on a long list of successes the New England Patriots have amassed over the past four years. They are feats that have set this team apart from all others who have gone before them. And together they are the definitive elements of the NFL’s greatest dynasty.
It would be very easy for the players, coaches, front office, and fans of the Patriots to look back at the past four seasons and feel a great deal of satisfaction. Together, they have accomplished what seemed impossible in the fall of 2001, when a franchise quarterback went down and a unknown upstart took his place. Three championships later, it would be even easier for the Patriots nation to sit back and bask in the afterglow of that astounding run. But to do so, would betray everything the past four years have stood for. Contentment is our worst enemy. The largest obstacle the Patriots will have to overcome as they compete for a fourth title, are the three that came before it. If the achievements of the past have satisfied our hunger even the smallest amount, then the cause is already lost. There are only two possible outcomes that can stem from this season. Either the New England Patriots Dynasty will continue on into the future, or it will slip away, living only in the weathered pages of history books.
This is our defining moment. With one defeat, our reign could be ended. With one more title, we could reach the paramount of excellence, shattering all records with a fourth title in five years, three consecutive. This season will determine our legacy. While we have so much to lose, there is a matchless prize to be gained. We have no choice but to seize it. In a world where empires fall, and legends fade, we must forget the past. We must capture the moment. We must Defend The Dynasty.
This is by far my favorite part of the NFL starting back up. There's not a feat more challenging than trying to successfully predict all twelve NFL playoff teams before the first snap. Sure, nailing all 63 of the NCCA Men's basketball tournament is much more impressive. But that's completely up to luck. Picking the twelve playoff teams is possible, as long as you have the analytical skills necessary. So once again, in my effort to prove my superior intellect over the folks at ESPN, here are my pre-season picks. Last year, I went an ugly 5-7. Although, there were three teams who I picked as playoff teams that blew their opportunity on Week 17. So I was a few breaks away from 8-4. I will point out, however, that my rule that only seven playoff teams, at most, can be picked to make it again next year held true. The Patriots, Colts, Broncos, Packers, Seahawks, Rams, and Eagles all made the post-season in back to back years. Same rules apply this season. Here we go...
The Vikings should have this thing wrapped up by Week 11. Just a horrible division.
Sports Illustrated has the Panthers going all the way. I love the Panthers, ever since they became the only opponent I've felt bad for after my team beat them in Super Bowl XXXVIII. However, I'm going with Hotlanta to win the division.
The Eagles are hurting at the receiver position, with cancer T.O. as the sole threat. They're my most hated team in the league, and if ever there was a time to drop them out of contention, it's now. But I've learned better than to count Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb out.
The Cardinals as a sleeper-pick? I'll believe it when I see it. It's a toss-up between the Rams and Seahawks. But the Seahawks just had so many implosions last season and still managed to get in. If they can learn from their mistakes, there's no reason to count them out.
The Vikes are in the weakest division by far, which should net them the top seed. The Eagles will probably struggle a bit, so I've knocked them down to the third spot. And as long as the O-line holds up and gives Bledsoe time, he could flourish in Dallas.
I've got four NFC teams returning to the playoffs, so I have to pick my AFC returnees sparingly. I have no problem going with a team that finished 15-1.
The Jags just missed out on the playoffs down the stretch. I'll roll the dice with them again this year.
Seriously, were you expecting anything else?
I still hold a big grudge against the Chiefs for the way they stole the spotlight from the Patriots with their ridiculously easy schedule in 2003. But seeing as I've used up all my returning playoff team spots, someone's got to get promoted.
I want to go on record as saying that I really don't like leaving the Jets off this list. But I only had three spots remaining for the AFC. I can't boot the Pats, Colts, or Steelers for the Jets. And on the NFC side, the Vikings and Eagles are practically locks. I have to go with Seattle or St. Lous in the West. So that's six returning playoff teams that I'm locked into. It really boils down to Atlanta vs. the Jets. Could the Panthers overtake the Falcons? Yes. But do I really think the Saints or the Cardinals are going to have a better record to take a wild card spot? No.
Returning playoff teams from last season - 7: Patriots, Colts, Steelers, Eagles, Falcons, Vikings, Seahawks
Non-returning playoff teams from last season - 5: Cowboys, Panthers, Ravens, Chiefs, Jaguars.
On the returning teams, I really can only see the Rams overtaking the Seahawks as a possibility of messing them up. I only really feel good about the Panthers on the non-returning teams. But I had to shut teams like the Jets and Chargers out to follow my rule. It hasn't failed me yet.
Eagles over Cowboys, Panthers over Seahawks
Vikings over Panthers, Falcons over Eagles
Vikings over Falcons
Ravens over Chiefs, Steelers over Jaguars
Colts over Chiefs, Patriots over Steelers
Patriots over Colts - By putting the Colts as the top seed, I wanted to point out that the Patriots would kill Peyton Manning, even in the RCA Dome. Plus, the top two seeds almost never make it to the Super Bowl, and I have the Vikings going...
Patriots over Vikings
My pre-season Super Bowl prediction from last season, rears it's head again in the 2005 version. Hopefully, history won't repeat itself too much, and I'll do better than 5-7.