The New England Patriots rivals have changed over the years. In the early 2000s it was the Pittsburgh Steelers, and then it was the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts for the middle-to-late 2000s, before the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos took over in the early 2010s.
There doesn’t appear to be a real rival for the Patriots for the mid-2010s as the Broncos offense is a wreck, the Kansas City Chiefs always struggle in the postseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts haven’t been able to compete with the Patriots in their head-to-head match-ups, and the Oakland Raiders haven’t faced New England since they’ve become a contender.
Steelers FS Mike Mitchell joined the NFL Network to discuss the Patriots control of the AFC.
“I just think they’re a very good football team,” Mitchell explained on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. “I have a very healthy respect for them. They have a bunch of Hall of Fame caliber players. They have a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback and a Hall of Fame-caliber coach. Very, very, very good football team. I think we beat a lot of people off of our physicality and they beat a lot of people off of discipline. So I admire that about them. We have to match that discipline and keep our physicality and we’ll see how that goes next time around.”
The Patriots are stacked with talent at every position on the roster, but perhaps the most important factor isn’t the potential upside in each player, but the consistency that each player brings on a snap-by-snap basis.
Some teams have arguably more high-end talent than the Patriots at various positions, including the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, but it’s the New England squad that delivers week after week after week.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick preaches the fundamentals and the need to learn the basics during the offseason so when it comes time to compete on Sundays the players don’t have to think and will default to the proper technique. Unlike other teams, the Patriots succeed in imprinting that mentality on their roster.
The Steelers will again try to compete with the Patriots in 2017, with the Pittsburgh secondary saying how they’ve changed their coverage strategy because of the Patriots and their star linebacker saying that the league has “a Patriots problem.”
I would think that all of the real estate the Patriots have in the heads of the Steelers players prevents the Pittsburgh defense from learning and committing to their fundamentals.