Seriously, how did no other team pick up Cam Newton? 31 other clubs had to know he would likely end up in New England. And now that he has, the 2020 Patriots might be even more dangerous – at least offensively – than last year.
Yes, I know they lost on Sunday. For the fourth time in their last six meetings with the Seahawks, the game ended on the 1-yard line (even in 2004 when New England led 30-20, Seattle got stuffed on the 1). But it was a typical Patriots loss. Even when the game looked over, the opposing coach tried to outsmart Bill Belichick and ended up outsmarting himself. (Seriously, what is Pete Carroll doing throwing deep on a 3rd-and-1 when a first down ices the game?)
In case you didn’t know it already, Julian Edelman cannot be denied. If he decides to add the deep ball to his arsenal, look out. N’Keal Harry could break out in year two. Granted, the defense is a step below last year, in part because of key players like Dont’a Hightower and Patrick Chung sitting out the season. But in a game in which Russell Wilson threw five touchdown passes against a Bill Belichick-coached defense – the first time that has happened since Drew Brees did it in 2009 – the Seahawks still needed a miracle on defense to preserve the win.
The other part of the equation is, as always, the AFC (L)east. A division that redefines the term mediocrity appears to be well on its way again in 2020. Okay, the Bills are pretty good. If Josh Allen can have a few more 4-TD games like he did yesterday, they, too, are a viable threat in the AFC for the first time since the salad days of Jim Kelly. But beyond that, the Dolphins and Jets are looking at a top-10-draft-pick type of year. Nothing new there.
There is a feeling that the Kansas City Chiefs have and will continue to supplant the Patriots as the perennial AFC powerhouse. Dynamic QB/coach combination. Major homefield advantage (well, any year except 2020, anyway). Super Bowl title under their belt. Oh, and an incompetent division. But before we put KC anywhere near the class of the Pats and their recent dynasty, there is one thing the Chiefs should probably do first – beat the Patriots in the playoffs, something they were able to avoid (along with the Ravens) in 2019.
After two weeks of the NFL season, the Patriots are actually in a familiar position. They’re 1-1 and have become a bit of an afterthought because everyone assumes – whether via sheer logic or just wishful thinking – that the Pats’ dynasty is a thing of the past. That may be true, but who says you have to be a dynasty to compete for a championship? Did the “little-engine-that-could” 2001 Patriots team have the vibe of a budding dynasty? Absolutely not.
When the Patriots went nine straight years without winning a championship and Tom Brady was “descending” into his late 30s, did a dynastic return seem imminent? Again, a hard ‘no’ there. The lesson here is never count out Bill Belichick. The Patriots won 11 games with Matt Cassel in 2008. They’ve won games with Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett, and now they have a former league MVP with plenty left in the tank driving the bus.
It would be foolish to think New England is going away. Reports of the Patriots’ death are, as Mark Twain once said, greatly exaggerated.