So, just to review, the New England Patriots lost perhaps their three best defensive players from last year’s Super Bowl team – Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Vince Wilfork – and offensive lineman Nate Solder (torn biceps) is out for the year.
And yet, the Patriots are 4-0, rank second in the league in scoring offense, seventh in scoring defense and have the second-best point differential (+73) in the NFL.
In other words, they’re destroying people.
“It’s amazing, but they really are playing outstanding offense and Tom Brady has been hot,” Tony Dungy said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “They know how to utilize their personnel and they can play four or five different types of game plans. You never know what you’re going to get. Are you going to get a bunch of wide receivers in the passing game? Are you going to get a two-back running attack? They can mix that really well and they have been doing well. I’m amazed at their defense as well. They’ve lost talented players. They have a reworked secondary, they’ve got a couple of really good pass rushers, but what they do on defense and what they do to fool people – not only fool people but take away what you do best – you have to be a pretty diverse offense to really have success against them. If you only have one way to attack, they can usually find out a way to neutralize that. They’re playing outstanding football.”
Brady, especially. The 38-year-old has completed a whopping 72.5 percent of his passes, is averaging 331.3 passing yards per game and has 11 touchdowns to zero interceptions.
Brady will take the Patriots’ show on the road to Indianapolis this Sunday to take on the Colts. The last time these two teams squared off, it was the AFC Championship. New England won, 45-7. Then this tiny, little, minor controversy happened.
Something about deflated balls.
In any event, Brady has already said this game will mean more to him than others. At first blush, you would think that spells doom for the Colts, who are an underwhelming 3-2 and may be without Andrew Luck for a third straight game.
But can the Colts actually use Brady’s added motivation to their advantage?
“Well, I think the Colts do have some advantage that way,” Dungy said. “They’re the underdog. No one thinks they have a chance to win. There is this sense of revenge or redemption or whatever you look at it. That doesn’t really work into playing well in sports. And Bill Belichick will do everything he can to downplay that because athletic events are about execution and doing what you do best. Everybody’s motivated. Both sides are going to be motivated no matter what’s happened in the past. These games – New England/Indy – are always big. Who’s going to have home-field advantage? If we play a playoff game, where’s it going to be? There’s always a lot riding on these games. I don’t think that’ll play into it. I think what’ll play into it is who can control their emotions and execute?”
Overall, the Patriots have won 17 of their last 19 games. The two losses? A five-point loss at Green Bay in Week 13 last year and then a Week 17 loss to the Bills in which the Patriots rested their starters.
Sunday’s kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. ET.