1. The Pats' mystique really is badly tarnished. There are few if any teams left that feel intimidated, at least not teams that matter. Just look at the Colts' or Jets' recent results against the Pats. 2. The one team that's "inside the Pats' heads", Denver, is good enough to be a serious post-season threat these days. 3. Belichick's coaching edge vs. the rest of the league seems to have shrunk. This was always to be expected; he's the most studied recent coach, for all the obvious reasons. We're seeing him get outcoached more often than he used to. The result is a greater level of inconsistency in the Pats' play than we saw during, say, their record-setting winning streak. I don't think the Pats will win another Super Bowl until something significantly new and positive happens to catalyze a return to confidently dictating games. Something like a true breakout from an offensive player (e.g., Watson or Maroney) might be enough. Or if that doesn't happen this season, maybe a significant DB upgrade in 2007. Bottom line: To be champions, the Pats need to build around consistent excellence in more parts of their game than they're currrently enjoying it in.