Bill Belichick is famous for putting together a perennial contender that has dominated the NFL's American Football Conference for over a decade. Listen to any one of the several ESPN talking heads, and you'll think Roger Goodell ought to pass an initiative to change the name of the Vince Lombardi trophy to "the Belichick prize." In reality, the coach has made his reputation by riding the coattails of Tom Brady. Unfortunately, Belichick's savior won't be able to keep the Baltimore Ravens from beating the New England Patriots on Sunday, and there are four big reasons why.
1) False achievement
Thanks to a 14-2 record in 2010, the New England Patriots were set to face a first-place schedule that would undoubtedly include numerous matchups against the best teams in their conference. It didn't work out that way. Believe it or not, the Patsies faced 14 teams with records of .500 or worse, going 13-1 against these less-than-formidable foes. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick only faced two teams with winning records: the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) and New York Giants (9-7). Guess what? They lost both times.
2) Bad matchup
The Patriots have the second-worst defense in the league; but under normal circumstances, that hasn't been too much of a problem. When he faces one-dimensional offenses, Belichick can formulate a scheme that can limit his opposition enough to let Brady outscore it. Unfortunately, when he faces a physical opponent that can run and pass, he can't focus on any one specific area, which inevitably allows both the run and the pass to flourish. Although Joe Flacco isnít Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees; he can hit wide-open targets - something Tim Tebow wasnít able to do in the Patriots' divisional round game.
3) Recent history
Though the Patriots have a history of Super Bowl appearances, they haven't come on the strength of a dominant home-field advantage. The New England crowd is quiet, spoiled and lazy, making little noise and leaving early, whether its team is winning by 30 or losing by the same margin. Baltimore has already tasted playoff victory on Tom Brady's home field. It will do the same come Sunday, when Ray Lewis earns his second Super Bowl appearance at the expense of Bill Belichick, an overrated coach and poor general manager.
Although it may sound like NFL heresy, when it comes to coaching, John Harbaugh is superior to Bill Belichick. A football god to many, the latter is really just a strange, anti-social man who was fortunate enough to have Drew Bledsoe fall victim to a punctured lung at just the right time. Until that fateful day against the New York Jets, Belichick was a hopeless loser.
Before Beldsoe's injury forced Brady onto the field, Belichick was horrid in Cleveland; 5-11 in his first season at New England; and 0-2 in the second. Following Bledsoe's injury, the 2001 Patriots went 11-3 on their way to winning the first of three Super Bowls in four years.
Thanks to Tom Brady's skills, the New England Patriots coach has garnered an undeserved reputation, as well as complete control of the team's player personnel decisions. What has he done with this power? He traded away vaunted defensive icons, such as Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour, and drafted an endless sea of failed defensive players that have combined to create one of the worst defensive units in NFL history.
On the other side of things, you have John Harbaugh: a coach that gets by with a very average signal caller and a strong, authentic personality that attracts his players and earns their respect.
Prediction: Ravens 27, Patriots 21
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