The New England Patriots’ players just received their Super Bowl rings. They are still into celebrations, but while they celebrate they need not forget that NFL does not crown a team champions for long. You never know which new team may come out as the winner. Already we have had developments that may jeopardize the chances of the Patriots’ winning another Super Bowl. Will the Patriots still be able to rise to the occasion or unlikely contenders just show them the door? This remains to be seen. However, as we know there are some teams based on rankings and recent developments to suggest that they may be well equipped to take on the current champions.
Many people would say the Colts hardly stand a chance against the Patriots. This also seems the case considering the thrashing they received the last time at the hands of the Patriots last season. They stand outscored at 88-31. The Colts seem to have improved with the addition of rookie Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett is capable of lining up at different positions on the offense. Averaging 24.2 yards per catch last season, the rookie is expected to bring relief to the team. The Patriots seem way ahead. But this time the Colts have come out pretty strong owing to the great work they have done in their roster. On the other hand quarterback Andrew Luck seems to be improving all the more. It seems he is the man who will do something extra ordinary for the team.
This is the team that the Patriots have troubled for years. When it comes to the playoffs they are 1-3 against the Patriots and to make matter worse they have never won a single game against the Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick. However, despite all these odds, we have Ben Roethlisberger playing some of the best football of his career. He has many reliable players stacked in his team. All that the Steelers need to figure out is their defense. Once that point is addressed, they will have the chance to give the Pats a hard time. It seems that this point has finally been addressed after 6 of the 8 picks by the Steelers in the 2015 draft were on defense. The bad news for the Patriots is that they may be without their quarterback Tom Brady this time.
Kansas City Chiefs
At times, some teams have the potential to strike back in ways that will leave their opponents completely surprised and mesmerized. The Pats faced a similar situation last season when they received a thrashing by the Kansas City last season. So who knows? Maybe they will give in another surprise when they meet the Pats this year. The Chiefs are lucky to have a coach in the form of Andy Reid who knows how the inner mind of Belichick operates. He knows and has witnessed what it will take to beat the Pats. They have all the three aspects required to defeat the Pats: power running, strong defense and mistake-free passing. Last meeting proved how prefect they are in these three aspects as they came out 41-14 in a blowout. If the Chiefs manage to stay in till January, then the Patriots will likely face a huge challenge again.
When we speak of Peyton Manning in terms of Pats, then he has a distinction that is held by just one more quarterback. He is the quarterback to have won more than one playoff game against the patriots. Though he may seem to be of little threat being 39-years old, but he still has good many players behind his back. So if he can just remain healthy for this season, then the Broncos have all that they need to win the game. Besides, the Broncos have strengthened their team with the addition of quality players such as Shane Ray. Von Miller is present as one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. The Broncos also have quality players at the defensive ends like Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe.
When you see the Pats for the past six seasons, no other team has tormented them like the Ravens have. Since 2009, it has been two times when they knocked the Pats out of the playoffs. On two other occasions they were close to doing that again. With the necessary competent coaching, the Ravens are in for another close game. They have a solid roster to speak of and plenty of playoffs experience to engage in a fierce battle. So the Pats have a lot to worry about when they face the Ravens. In fact, the Ravens are the biggest threat to the Pats this season.
Situation still uncertain for the Patriots
The Pats at this stage are in a dilemma. They still do not know for certain what the future of Brady will be for the first four-games. Brady has been suspended for four-games for his involvement in the Deflategate scandal. The appeal against the suspension will be heard later next week, but many are hopeful that the appeal may lift the ban altogether or at least reduce the punishment to two-games. Whatever the situation, the Pats have not known another quarterback since 2001. The need to bring in another quarterback never arose as Brady came out to be someone who is now widely considered as the best quarterback the NFL has ever produced. The only exception was way back in 2008 when Brady was forced to take the bench due to an injury. But that was way back. How will the Pats fare without him this time?
With Brady’s appeal scheduled for the 23rd of June, the Pats may straight be headed for trouble if the ruling does not come in their favor. Some of the first four-games are expected to be tough ones for the Pats. Will they survive without Brady is a big question mark? The first game for the Patriots comes against the Steelers. We all know how strong the Steelers can be. They came out 11-5 last season. The Steelers are one of the major threats that the Pats will have to face this time.
The next game is not expected to be good this time. The Bills who are the Patriots’ toughest divisional rivals will take on the Pats. The Bills have certainly improved under Rex Ryan. The offense has certainly improved and the defense is one of the best in the NFL. They have two very good contenders for the running back position. Ryan has once again come up with a new claim saying that teams would not want to face them. Will that prove to be true is yet to be known? However, if the Pats are going to play the game without Brady, then Ryan’s claim may seem true to some extent.
The Pats may find some respite in their third game when they face the Jaguars, but then tough times will be back again when they face the Dallas Cowboys. The Pats have been considering another option if the appeal fails. They have Jimmy Garoppolo and Matt Flynn in as possible replacement for Brady. It seems that the Patriots are unlikely to take any chance and instead of relying heavily on the appeal they will focus on a replacement.
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For your pleasure and interest, we have created an Infographic related to this same article. Take a brief look at the top 5 threats faced by the Patriots.