Curtis: Patriots Would Benefit From Stronger AFC East
BOSTON (CBS) – With another interminable preseason finally complete it is time to look forward and wonder why the Patriots have the longest championship drought in major Boston sports.
I blame the AFC East.
Why have the Giants beaten the Patriots in their last two appearances in the Super Bowl? They were more battle tested.
The AFC East in general — and the New York Jets in particular — has served as nothing more than the Washington Generals as the Pats have gone through roughly a decade of ten-plus win regular season football.
Consider the New York Giants last two championship runs; they were 9-7 last season and 10-6 in 2007. The NFC East, while by no means the toughest division in football, at least had the Eagles and Cowboys, two teams that if they replaced the Pats, would win the AFC East.
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Since they could only manage nine wins in the regular season, those Giants teams were forced to play three playoff caliber teams in order to reach the Super Bowl. They have had to win five road playoff games including two at Lambeau, one at Candlestick and one in Dallas.
Those hard roads prepared the G-men for the great Patriot teams, and their difficult regular seasons enabled them to be ready for the playoff competition that got them to the Super Bowl.
The championship Patriots teams all had very hard roads to the Lombardi trophy. 2001 speaks for itself, but in 2003 they had to consecutively beat TWO MVP’s in Steve McNair and Peyton Manning in order to reach the Super Bowl in Houston.
The next year they beat the then greatest offense of all-time in the Colts and had to travel to the 15-1 Steelers to get to Jacksonville for their third title in four years.
In their last two chances at their fourth ring, the Patriots had locked up the division before we were tired of Christmas music and had mostly cupcakes en route to their Super Bowl appearances.
In 2007 they had the awful Jaguars and Norv Turner’s Chargers before falling to the Giants the first time. Last season they had to face Tim Tebow and then benefited from Billy Cundiff’s shank before their second consecutive loss to New York in Indianapolis.
But the AFC East does not appear to be improving this year. Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill can’t even name the teams in his division and the Jets are implementing a Wildcat offense that has not worked in five-plus years. When your biggest competition is coming from Buffalo, you know the division championship hats can already be printed.
As hard as it may be, the best thing for the Patriots quest for their fourth Super Bowl title is a more balanced division.
Lets go Jets?
Chris Curtis has produced 98.5 The Sports Hub’s The DA Show the last three years.
Follow him on Twitter @_ChrisCurtis.