New England Patriots Running the Table to End Regular Season?

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On Nov 6th, the New England Patriots 2011 season hit rock bottom. The New York Giants had gotten the best of them yet again, and although it was a close, last second loss on a questionable play, it was very deflating. Especially when combined with the one-sided defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers the week before, it was rare back to back losses for Tom Brady and company.

Then the columns writing the Patriots off started to surface. Everyone thought the Bill Belichick era was dead. Juxtapose that with the talk in September and October when everyone was saying the Patriots were the dominant team in the AFC.

Well, both of those outlooks were wrong. Here’s what we do know, they seem to be in the driver’s seat for the AFC East title, and could very easy finish the season off with 7 straight wins.

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I’m predicting they’ll falter somewhere, and/or wraps things up by week 16 and send in their J.V. for the final game (thus resulting in a loss). However, it looks fairly certain, barring serious injury, New England finishes the season 12-4 or 13-3.

Let’s run down the schedule.

K.C. tonight- Old friend Matt Cassel isn’t even here. Tyler who?

@Philly- the toughest game left on the docket. I know that sounds weird to say a 4-6 GROSSLY underachieving team is the biggest hurdle, but they impressed last night in the national NBC game; especially when you considered they were under-manned.

Colts– self-explanatory

@Redskins- match-up of the league’s two most valuable brands, I’m picking the one with the honorable and awesome mascot, not the racist one

@Broncos- another wild card, will Jesus Tebow and his goofy zone-option read solve the Pats front four? A team that can’t or won’t pass versus a team that can’t stop the pass. I’m going N.E. in this one

Dolphins- no contest

Bills- revenge from the early season.

So with a season’s sweep of the New York Jets already complete, and a two game lead over NYJ and Buffalo, the East looks to be there’s for the taking. As for the AFC, no one seems to want to take hold of this thing. That’s why there’s been so much over-analysis up and down of N.E., experts want to deem someone a conference favorite, and should New England win tonight it puts them at 7-3, tied with three others.

The Steelers, Ravens and Houston Texans are also 7-3. So at this point the #1 seed homefield is entirely up for grabs. The conference is nothing like the NFC where the Green Bay Packers are the unquestioned rulers of the roost.

The Pats may be a recent traditional power, but they certainly don’t fit the mold of a so-called conference favorite. You and I could gain big chunks of yards against their secondary; as their pass defense is dead last in the league surrendering over 300 yards a game. And their total defense is 32nd out of 32 as well.

Against the run they’re a little better, where they’re 19th. They win because they’re first in the NFL in passing, 2nd in total offense and 3rd in scoring. You could call them the league’s most fun to watch team; and exactly what Dr. Goodell ordered. The Chairman wants a NFL as pass happy as possible, because that moves the needle. New England does their part- on both sides of the ball.

And while the Patriots numbers don’t look dominant, neither do their receivers. Their top receivers are white. A girl next to me in the press box this past weekend said “since I moved up here to the midwest from the south I see all these Caucasian skill position players, I’m not used to that.”

Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski can ball though- regardless of their skin color.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports.

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the FWAA, USBWA and SPJ. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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