Monday, November 26, 2007

Patriots fall to 9-2 (Against the Spread)

While there's no question that the New England Patriots are still far-and-away the best team in the NFL, there's also no doubt that the rest of the league has a glimmer of hope after last night's game with Philadephia. The Eagles played with abandon, and emptied out their bag of trickeration against the Pats -- flea-flickers, flanker options, even an on-side kick (that may or may not have travelled 10 yards, but which was not challenged by the Patriots in any event.) Moreover they took Randy Moss out of the game and put the heat on Tom Brady, including one of the most vicious sacks (on the Pats' first offensive possession) of the year.

But what the Eagles game also showed is that the pressure is on the Patriots. In successive series in the second half -- with game on the line -- the Patriots (specifically Faulk, Welker, and Maroney) dropped a series of indifferently-thrown balls by Tom Brady. The defense, meanwhile was unable to get any sort of push on Eagles' QB AJ Feeley, and the journeyman was able to exploit the middle of the field. When Asante Samuel ran down Feeley's ill-advised pass with 4:30 left, all of Patriot Nation -- and the Patriots themselves -- let out a giant sigh of relief.

The Patriots may yet go undefeated, but it looks like the weight of history -- if not that of the 1972 Dolphins -- will be with them the rest of the way.

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