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NFL New England Patriots

2013 NFL Playoffs: Is Window Now Shut for New England?

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a good era for the New England Patriots. Since 2001, the Patriots won three Super Bowls, made five Super Bowl appearances, 10 playoff appearances, seven AFC Championship Game appearances and won 10 AFC East division championships. After today’s 28-13 loss in the Conference title game to the Baltimore Ravens, the question has to come up if this is the end of an era for the Patriots.

New England won all three of their Super Bowl’s in a four year span from 2001-2004. Since, they’ve made deep runs and even played in two more Super Bowl’s, but haven’t won since the ’04 season.

Their age is showing as is the lack of execution with less talent. It’s no secret Tom Brady will go down as one of the best to ever play the game, but his weaknesses are now glaring. He’s not mobile, can’t throw into coverage and inaccurate downfield if his receiver isn’t wide open.

For years, the Patriots have thrived in exposing defenses by short quick slant routes with very fast receivers. But, defenses that are strong, not afraid to play man to man coverage and blitz the Patriots’ offense is what they have troubles with. That style will win against teams without the personnel to defend it, but when they get deeper and deeper in the playoffs and play teams with that caliber of defense, they lose.

The Ravens exposed them today and swept New England this season as they beat them earlier this year. With teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans having gone through the rebuild process and have younger offenses and a defense capable of stopping the Patriots as early as next season, you have to wonder if this is it.

The Patriots are an old team. They have a ton of free agents on the offensive line and lack talent in the backfield and receiving core. Wes Welker likely will be gone as will two or three of his starting offensive line. There’s no one outside of their injury prone tight ends that’s a valuable receiving target left if Welker leaves and the backfield is strictly a system. They don’t have the talent to be effective backs for the duration of a game.

That leaves just Brady to try and lead a team of under-talented players to win another Super Bowl. Don’t count on that to happen. By this time next February it would have been nearly a decade since New England hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. They’re ready for a rebuild.

The defense is horrid as well and I don’t think Bill Belichick will want to hang around much longer if Brady is almost done. I’d give the Patriots only two more years before you see a total overhaul with a new coaching staff, front office and no Brady. That tells me their window has closed as this team just doesn’t have it.