I don't think that we currently have close to the team that the saints have. That doesn't mean that we can't win the AFC and even beat the saints on a given Sunday. We have a top 5 offense and a top 10 defense. That's good enough for the playoffs. The issue is what we can do to be a force in the playoffs. THE OFFENSE 1. The OL plays very well when healthy. They are decimated at the moment. Almost all have been playing injured, or have sat out games recently with injuries. The cure is health. 2. Have we really been playing too much predictable shotgun? I think so, but this has happened when a lineman goes down. Again the cure is health. 3. O'Brian isn't very good at his job, but we are not sure that he even calls the plays. In any cas,e the running game has been much, much better. We have developed both a #3 receiver in Aiken and a backup slot man in Edelman. Even Stanback looks pretty good. The offense has Morris back. Again, even here, the main issue is the health of the OL. 4. There is ONE issue on the offense that is a mystery: the inability to finish and the relatively poor performance in the second half of games. I don't know the answer. It has been a long time since a Belichick team has blown second half leads (3 so far). Having a terrible game is one thing. Blowing a 17 point lead is quite another. 5. BOTTOM LINE - This offense is an elite offense; not the best, but elite nonetheless. THE DEFENSE 1. We could be better with Seymour and Hobbs on the squad, but this is not an option. We will need to settle for the fine young developing defense that we have. 2. The defensive line has been playing pretty well when healthy. Wilfork, Green and Warren have all been injured. Wright has played very well indeed. Burgess and Pryor have been contributers in a couple of games. In the end, health is the real issue at the moment. 3. The linebackers are what they are: our weakest unit. We knew this going into the offseason, into the draft, into the preseason, and into the season. The good news is that they have been playing reasonably well. However, it does say something when TBC is the best performer among the linebackers. It seems that better schemes might help. We have four very reasonable linebackers in Banta-Cain, Mayo, Thomas and Guyton. And Woods and Ninkovich have been OK when they have been called upon. This could have been much worse, given the personnel. 4. We don't have much of a pass-rush. We needed one of Burgess or Banta-Cain to step up even to have what we have. That did indeed happen. However, we also need better play from Thomas. 5. The secondary has been very good so far this year, and they have been improving. Yes, they had an aweful game against the possible league MVP and the best passer of the past three years. Yes, they missed some coverages. However, the patriot defensive schemes presented no problems for the saints. What can be done was seen in the play of the very weak saints secondary. Somehow, the patriots had no clue what was coming from the saints defense. It changed during the game. Kudos to the saints coaching staff! 6. The bottom line is that this is a top 10 defense, and that is good enough for the playoffs and good enough to win it all if the offense plays better (which would require more healthy players). BOTTOM LINE We have a great offense and a so-so defense. We have to be able to expect the offense to win some games late, especially if the defense falters. We may prefer it the other way around, but we are who we are. Our three best players are Brady, Welker and Moss. And we are a pass-first team with no fullback and no #3 TE. The running game has been fine, given the situation. So, what does this mean? It means that the team is contructed to depend on Brady.