You guys all know what a Friday afternoon news dump is, right?
It’s when a team – or the NFL – drops the news about a suspension or otherwise unsightly bit of news right around the time us regular Joes are counting down the minutes before leaving the office on Friday and hoping Lumburg doesn’t come by at 4:55 and say he’s going to need you to go ahead and come in on Saturday. This piece of work from the New York Post on Monday morning is the exact opposite of that.
Like most headlines, it’s designed to make you spit your coffee out and go "Oh man, forget those TPS reports, I NEED to read this!"
The headline reads "Ban? Crazy trade? Why it doesn’t matter for juggernaut Patriots", and it starts out with all the reasons the Patriots shouldn’t be ranked first in their power rankings, even though they are. On paper, they’re right. Check it out:
"Their Canton-bound quarterback could miss a quarter of the season to a suspension."
"They just traded by far their best pass-rusher – one of the sport’s most difficult roles to fill – for peanuts."
"Their leading wide receiver just had foot surgery."
"Oh, and their running game and offensive line are a mess."
Those are all totally fair assessments.
And the Patriots are, in fact, number 1 in the Post’s offseason NFL power rankings anyway.
After all that, the Post, somewhat begrudgingly, admits that "…underestimating New England the past 15 years is a fool’s game."
The biggest reason, aside from the Patriots being "notoriously slow starters", is that they pack the "...NFL’s most potent weapon", referring to everyone’s favorite vodka-water-chugging tight end, Rob Gronkowski. In a sentence that surely stung to write, the NYP goes on to say that "A former Giant, (Martellus) Bennett is skilled as both a blocker and as a receiver. Combining him with Gronkowski promises to be the stuff of absolute nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators."
They’re not wrong! A couple months ago, Pats Pulpit ran through how just one formation could mean a zillion different offensive plays that defensive coordinators can’t possibly be expected to anticipate.
More importantly, the Post notes – accurately – that "It is not as if the rest of the AFC East has done much to finally catch up with New England, either."
As for the Patriots’ most recent competition for the AFC? The Post’s assessment of Denver is blunt – they’ve been "…decimated by free agency." Denver doesn’t even crack the top 10 in their power rankings, checking in at a decidedly mediocre 12th. They also get a funny little Mark Sanchez dig in there, which, really, given that New York went through four years of "The Sanchize", is pretty understandable (and probably a bit cathartic).
If this were almost any other newspaper, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as delightful, but given the New York Post’s penchant for busting Tom Brady’s balls (pun intended), the admission that the Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC is a bit of a surprise. It would’ve been pretty easy to make the case that the AFC East has reloaded, that the Steelers and Bengals and Ravens and Chiefs and Colts should be right back in the mix for AFC Championship contention, and that the whole laundry list of subtractions from the Patriots should knock them off the top spot and spell out their doom.
It just wouldn’t have been accurate.