The playoff seeding has been set and this coming weekend, the NFL playoffs kick off with Wild Card Weekend. For the New England Patriots, they get a first-round bye and will begin their road to the Super Bowl against the highest remaining seed from the Wild Card round. With the playoffs set to begin for the Patriots, the question now becomes, “can Tom Brady lead them to the promise land for a fourth time?”
There’s no doubt that he’s got the experience. Since the year 2000, Brady has led New England to the playoffs 11 times, including this year’s berth. He is 17-7 in his career in the playoffs including 11-3 at home. He’s been ever-so cool under pressure and is the king of the fourth-quarter comeback. When it comes time for the playoffs, it’s hard to find a better quarterback and that includes you, Mr. Peyton Manning.
The problem with this year’s New England Patriots squad, however, is that it is simply Tom Brady. There is no Kevin Faulk, Randy Moss, Wes Welker or Rob Gronkowski joining him in the huddle. Instead, it’s a bunch of misfit toys that he’s made work that has got them this far. They have relied on Brady to hold the ship together and he can only lead them so far before everything falls apart beyond his control.
When you look around that offensive huddle, Danny Amendola is the only player that really stands out. Joining him includes Julian Edleman, Aaron Dobson and Stevan Ridley. None of them are household names (yet) and it’s been the play of Tom Brady that makes them look good. If you put them with any other quarterback, save for Peyton Manning, these players are nobodies in this league. They are united and joined together by a common bond and it’s not Bill Belichick, it’s Tom Brady.
Defensively, they just aren’t that tough, there’s no other way to put it. They rank 29th in the NFL in rush yards given up per game (131.7) and 18th in pass yards given up per game (240). It’s an aging defense that has had some troubles keeping up with opposing offenses. I’m not so sure that this defense is capable of picking up the offense when times get tough.
Don’t for one second think that this is a slight against Brady or the Patriots as a team. It’s remarkable what they’ve been able to accomplish, especially Brady, with the pieces that they have. I would even venture to say that Brady’s season has been more impressive than Peyton Manning’s simply because of what he’s been able to accomplish with the players he’s been given.
Can Tom Brady lead the New England Patriots to Super Bowl XLVIII? Absolutely. Will he? Unfortunately, no; he can’t. The defense just isn’t strong enough and the supporting cast around him just isn’t good enough to hang with the elevated level of competition. If the Patriots do manage to get to the big game, it’ll be solely because of Brady. However, it just doesn’t seem likely as he’ll need to carry the rest of the team on his back to the top and that’s just too heavy of a load to bear.