Who Can Stop the New England Patriots?
Who can unseat the Patriots from the throne?
So, the NFL kicks off it's 2017 season on Thursday, and the big question looming over every fans head is, what can we expect from the NFL this year?
It's not that hard to realize that the New England Patriots are the team to beat. The addition of Brandin Cooks and the return of Rob Gronkowski doesn't help teams come up with a defensive game plan against them. The re-signing of Malcolm Butler and acquisition of Stephon Gilmore also makes their secondary pretty tough.
If we're looking at this from a conference standpoint, there seem to be only two teams that can beat the Patriots. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders. The Steelers have the most high powered offense in the league with Antonio Brown, Ben Rothlisberger and Le'veon Bell. Add to that the return of Martavious Bryant and them drafting local kid James Conner, and on paper, the Steelers look like an offensive juggernaut. The problem in Pittsburgh comes on the defensive side. Tom Brady scorches them regularly because they play zone defense against him and that just doesn't work. The recent signing of Joe Haden is a big boost o the Steelers D, but he needs to be healthy to be effective. I' probably say the Steelers are the biggest threat to New England.
Another team that is a legitimate threat is the Oakland Raiders. Derek Carr has had an impressive few seasons in the NFL and he's got a decent team around him now. The wide receiver combo of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are tough to beat, add to the newly acquired running back Marshawn Lynch, and you have a good offense. Khalil Mack leads a defense that has actually come a long way since just a few years ago. All signs point to the Raiders being a top contender in the AFC, but the Patriots are still king.
The NFC is dicey. There are several teams that could go to the Super Bowl and compete or beat the Patriots if New England made it. The Atlanta Falcons, famous for blowing the biggest lead in Super Bowl history, could absolutely return and seek revenge. The Seattle Seahawks are always a threat with their stingy defense and Russell Wilson at the helm. The Green Bay Packers are a team that you can't ever ignore as long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy. The Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals look to have bounce back years too.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is coaching. The Patriots have the best game plan and prepare better than any team in the NFL. Throw in the best qb of his generation, and possibly of all time, and it's almost impossible to beat them. Injuries happen throughout the season, but the Pats seem to just keep rolling. The loss of Julian Edelman is a painful one, but don't be surprised if Chris Hogan or Danny Amendola have career years.
If I'm a betting man, and I assure you I'm not, I can't see myself betting against New England anytime soon.