In her latest article in the Boston Globe, Shalise Manza Young explains that the Patriots face a stretch of defining games. She says the next the next six games will likely determine whether New England is a true Super Bowl contender or not.
First up on the list is the Chicago Bears. The last time the Patriots faced Bears was four years ago on a snow-covered Soldier Field. Obviously the two teams have changed a lot since 2010, which is why Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal says the Patriots will have to find another way to gameplan for Chicago. He believes Bill Belichick will focus much of his attention on how the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins played the Bears this season.
"But even with the common opponents, Belichick said this isn't an easy team to prepare for. Between Jeffrey, Marshall and running back Matt Forte, the Bears are an explosive team that will test the Patriot defense," writes Daniels.
Last week the Patriots defense certainly did not have its best showing against the Jets, but ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss says it's not time to give up on the defense just yet. He believes that a lack of communication without Mayo and the exhaustion of playing 4 games in 18 days was the reason for the group's poor performance.
"Having lost Mayo on Sunday, and then having to play another game four days later without the benefit of a non-walkthrough practice, was always going to be a challenge," says Reiss. "It didn't take long to see that many of the banged-up players were running on fumes, their gas tank closer to 'E.'"
Chris Gasper](http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/10/19/thoughts-other-nfl-teams-flaws-are-channeled/EHJkxhe21qoDxg3I90LzIP/story.html) of the Boston Globe explains that, like the Patriots, all of the NFL's "contenders" have their fair share of flaws. He says that just when you think you know what to expect, the NFL will surprise you. Teams that began the season poorly are now hot, while teams that began strongly are now falling back to earth.
"The Patriots will be there in the end because in a league of flawed teams, they're better than most at covering up imperfections," writes Gasper.
Last night Mike Flynn and Dan Shaughnessy joined Michael Felger on Comcast SportsNet's "Sports Sunday" to debate whether the Patriots would be better off with Aqib Talib instead of Darrelle Revis. All three of them feel that Talib's nastiness set a tone for the Patriots' defense in a way that Revis hasn't been able to match.
The biggest news around the NFL right now is that Peyton Manning broke the NFL record for career touchdown passes in the Broncos' win against the 49ers. Tom Brady told WEEI's Dennis and Callahan that Peyton's 510 touchdown passes is a pretty incredible feat. Brady later says that he wouldn't change anything about his career and would never want to trade places with anybody. Phil Perry recaps the whole conversation on CSNNE.com.