The playoffs are here and once again the Patriots are right in the thick of things. Although it's been 10 years since they last won the Super Bowl, the Patriots have typically been among the favorites each and every year.
But despite all of that success, New England hasn't been able to get back to and win the Super Bowl. At times they've fallen short as the favorite and others they've overachieved to get as far as they have. This season it would appear the pieces are in place for a long run.
Now it's time to assess what it would all mean. If the Patriots aren't able to win the title, how would it affect the perception of the team? Would another division title and trip to the Super Bowl be enough to appease the masses, or is it time for another parade.
This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question asks: Do the Patriots need to win the Super Bowl in order for this to be considered a successful season?
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
The Patriots spent the last three months being considered the best team in football. They earned that by consistently playing the best. Now it's time to win it all to prove the regular season was no fluke.
No team is more balanced between offense and defense than the Patriots. They have the best scoring differential in the league and are among the best in terms of scoring offense, scoring defense, red zone offense, red zone defense and turnover ratio. No other team can boast that type of balance.
The Patriots have already beaten most of the playoff teams, and they almost never lose at home. They will be favored throughout the AFC playoffs and will have an easier road to Glendale than the NFC representative. They have the coach, quarterback and team to do it. It's time to add another trophy to the case.
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
That's ridiculous. Now, the Patriots do need to at least advance to the Super Bowl in order for this season to be regarded as a decent success. Really, though, there is no shame losing in the Super Bowl, especially to an opponent that could actually be considered a better football team.
Let's say New England reaches Arizona and faces the Seahawks. Seattle is the defending champ and is playing, at least defensively, as well as any team in the NFL as we hit January football. There would be no shame in fighting a good fight but just coming up short against a team that's talented and driven to defend its title.
So while the bar for success in New England was clearly set back in 2001with Super Bowl success, each year needs to be taken individually. The Patriots are better than we've seen of late, but that doesn't ensure a title.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.