The bye week was a time for the players to get some rest but the powers that be around Gillette Stadium were hard at work. Just before the trading deadline the Patriots pulled off a major move, acquiring cornerback Aqib Talib and a 2013 seventh-round pick from Tampa Bay in exchange for a 2013 fourth-rounder.
The move figures to improve a sagging pass defense by adding a talented, if troubled, cover corner to the mix. Talib is in the final stages of a four-game suspension and won't be eligible to join the Patriots officially until their Week 11 game against Indianapolis in Foxborough.
Most NFL experts believe Talib will immediately become the Patriots most talented member of the secondary and should give the defense a boost. The question is, will that be enough to push the team over the top?
That's where we settled on this week's Samsonite Make Your Case debate question – Does the addition of Aqib Talib make the Patriots the favorite to win the Super Bowl?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
The Patriots young defense was already making strides toward respectability and now they've acquired a talented cornerback who should be able to help out the team's most glaring need. Talib will immediately become the Patriots best cornerback, and for a team that has struggled to defend the pass as much as New England, that can only help.
New England already is stout up front against the run, and with rookies Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower adding some youthful playmaking ability, things could get even better as the youngsters add experience. Now with Talib in the fold, coupled with the potential for a better pass rush in the second half, the pass defense should be good enough to come up with enough stops necessary to win.
Combine the improvement on defense with an already prolific offense – not to mention a flawed NFL that doesn't seem to feature any dominant teams – and the Patriots absolutely should be considered the favorite to win the Super Bowl.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
I understand the idea of addressing a need and acquiring help in whatever manner you can to do so, but I'd like to see Talib actually play in a Patriots uniform before I'm willing to say he magically cures all of the ills on the New England defense.
By most accounts Talib is a talented player but also one who is prone to undisciplined play at times, and I'm talking strictly on the field. Many of the writers who covered him in Tampa believe he can operate well in a man-to-man setting while taking the opponents' No. 1 receiver exclusively. The Patriots don't typically do that with their top corners – they didn't do it with Ty Law, Asante Samuel or Devin McCourty when he was playing at a Pro Bowl level. Now we're expecting everything to be fixed just because Talib is in town? Again, I'll reserve judgment.
Offensively the Patriots are simply awesome and that gives the team a chance to win every game. But if we're identifying one team as the favorite to win it all at the halfway point, I can't say I like the Patriots chances better than Houston's or Green Bay's or the Giants. But there's still a half a season left to be played.
Now it's the fan's turn to cast their vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll.