I actually had these thoughts last week before the Charger game but didnt get the time to post them. I am expecting that we win the SB. This team has IMO the most important quality of the teams that won the first 3 rings. It has no liabilities. Now (actually last week) is the first time I've honestly been able to say that since SB XXXIX. Last year we had immediately and severe secondary problems. The BB D got beaten deep more last year than by my memory any 2 or maybe 3 other years combined, including his DC and Cleveland years. Of course we also started the year with ILB problems, and spent much of it with running game weakness because of injuries to Dillon and a lot of the OL. Quite simply, the players we were forced to play were liabilities in the roles they had to play, making the overall units liabilities. Early this year our receivers seemed to be a liability. ---Let me stop and explain what I mean by liability. A lack of a liability means this: We can neutralize the other teams strength, no matter what area it is in. We won't lose simply because we cannot control their strength. We win the battle, if only slightly, in all areas they are average. We dominate in any area they are weak. If you look at this years Pats team, especially over the last 2 months or so, no team can beat us because they destroy us in what they are strong at. We can exploit any weakness they have and win because of it. Offensively, we can win by any method, any exploit whatever the weaknesses are, but more importantly, hold our own against their strength. Defensively, we will control their strength and totally shut down their weakness or expose it (ie exposing bad OLs so strong QBs or RBs do not do well) Until recently our WR corps was potential the liability. It is very clear, IMO, that this unit is good enough that we can throw all day against a weak pass D and win, but also make enough play against a strong pass D to keep balance and allow us to exploit a run D weakness. When you look at this weeks game from this perspective, it seems easy to see how we will win. The Colt D has looked good lately because the 2 playoff opponents have been determined to run, and exploit the weakness. THE WEAKNESS IS STILL THERE. However, it wasn't exploited because they were allowed to overplay the run. The Colt pass D is not exactly good, but when you run into a weak run D that overcommits to it, you throw into a pass D that has gotten to a down and distance to not worry about the run. What we WILL do is throw enough to keep the Colts form selling out against the run, and expose that weakness and gash them. The most basic, and frighteningly overlooked offensive strategy is that if a team is weak in an area, you donot attack it at a point they can reinforce it, but you attack when it is vulnerable. Example: If a team has the worst corner in the NFL, coming out and throwing at him every time means the defense will give him help. Throwing at the worst corner with doubleteam help from a safety equals throwing at a good corner. You must design a gameplan that will force them to leave him in man coverage, then attack him. This is what we will do Sunday. DEPENDING on how the Colts start out defending us we will either jam the run down their throat (if they are playing 'honest') and gash them or throw a lot early to make them play honest THEN gash them. The passing game is the key to this win, but not in making plays, but in forcing them to play honest to set up a great running game. I expect a minimum of 200 rushing yards UNLESS the Colts refuse to come out of run defense and give us the pass. They can pick their poison as far as Im concerned. Defensively, this means that the Colt O will make plays. But there is nothing for them to exploit. We will have to give them something, and they will have to take what we give them. But, here is the key: We are able to CHOOSE what we give them. There is nothing we must do to cover a liability. We can blitz and be exposed ot the big play, but the Colts will not win because they are completing long passes all day. We can 'bend but dont break' and make them have 14 play drives. But they will not consistently be able to string 14 effective plays together. By the way, THIS is where the BB PIOSTSEASON game planning and its difference fron regular season comes in. My expectation is that Manning will be 'taking what we give him' for a good part of the day. However, in certain circumstances, and especially late he will be taking what HE THINKS we are giving him, and we will have devised a game plan that disguises what we are giving him, and the result will be the typically Pats D vs Manning playoff results. The difference between regular season and post season game planning is significant. In the regular season you are game planning at least in part to have continuity, improve areas, and focus on the long term development of the team. In the post season you are gameplanning solely to win the game. BB will utilize schemes that Manning has not seen, that will be specificly designed to win this game, as opposed to also considering continuity, deveolpment, the big picture, and getting ready for the playoffs. While it may be somewhat subtle, it is proven. The BB D has had games in the regular seasons where it did not use creative schemes designed to neutralize a player, and good players have good games. I do not EVER remember a good offensive player having a career day and 'carrying' a team vs BB in the playoffs. In fact in some cases those good players have had good days, but in the end it was in spite of the overall offense, and did not translate to the scoreboard, that is, what the THOUGHT we were giving them was what we WANTED to give them, and it wasn't enough. Right now this team has the most important characteristics that were present in 3 SB Champs, that was not present in 2002 and 2005 (and far from it in 2000). Final thought. It just cracks me up every time I hear an 'expert' base their opinion or prediction on one or 2 players. Last week it was 'the Chargers have LT and Gates, you can't stop both'. You DONT HAVE TO. There are 11 players out there. You must only hold your own against the best ones, have somewhat of an advantage against the mediocre ones, and exploit the bad ones (or the bad ones it the situations they are bad). The fact of the matter is when any offense and defense line up against each other the result has an awful lot less to do with the 2 best guys on either side of the ball than it does to do with the 2 worst guys on either side of the ball. Ultimately our championships are not born by winning plays because the best 2-3 guys we have on the field for a play outplay their best 2-3, but because our WORST 2-3 far outplayed their worst 2-3. Look at it this way: Before almost every playoff game, you hear things like 'how will they stop this guy' or 'who do they have to cover him, or who can get open against him, or how can you run on them, pass on them etc'. Can anyone remember a time when we lost, or almost lost a playoff game because the 'great' guy on the other team dominated us? I can't. And it has never mattered what position that guy plays. Pass rusher, RB, QB, WR, etc, etc. We are not putting players on the field who will be dominated, and most teams are based on their guy dominating. Look at the Chargers. How could we stop them? If LT doesnt dominate, Rivers and Gates will, or Merriman will, and so on. Oneof them dominates every week. Why? Because every week their is a liability in the team they are playing. Good players are great when lined up against a scrub. Against us they are no more than good because they aren't lined up against a scrub. Wow, this went longer than I intended. Any way, for those not sold on the Patriots finishing the job, reread this post. See the similarities, and ask yourself whathas made this team 'clutch' or 'winners' and just a cut above the rest of the league for 5 years. This is the best answer I can see, and after going away for a while, that quality is back in Foxboro.