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IN PERFECT HARMONY? Uber-dominant Patriots bear the early look of another 16-0 contender

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The NFL currently boasts nine undefeated teams through two weeks ... but only one club has the requisite blend of balance, mental toughness and go-for-broke swagger to be perfect after Week 17.

Twelve years ago this week, then-Monday Night Football analyst Tony Kornheiser stunned the ESPN audience by proclaiming the 2007 Patriots — merely sporting a 2-0 record at the time — would go undefeated for the entire regular season.

The comment (professed during the early, early days of Twitter) immediately sent shockwaves through the league, with pundits laughing at Kornheiser’s apparent willingness to say anything crazy on TV … while angering the large chunk of NFL Nation that doesn’t necessarily cheer for good things involving Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

Well, Kornheiser was certainly prescient with his on-air boast.

The Patriots went 16-0 during the regular season (eventually falling to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII), while posting a staggering 10 victories with a margin of at least 21 points.

Brady also set a then-NFL record with 50 touchdown passes, coinciding with Randy Moss’s record-breaking performance of 23 receiving TDs for a single campaign.

Which brings us to this: With the high-profile addition of Antonio Brown, New England is absolutely stacked with playmakers at running back (Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris) and receiver (Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett); and this doesn’t even cover the possibility of future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski coming out of retirement in mid-November to bolster the Patriots’ lineup at tight end.

As such, the parallels to the 2007 and 2019 clubs have become eerily similar, factoring in the fortuitous Moss/Brown acquisitions, the Patriots drawing the NFC East as crossover opponents for both seasons … and New England’s tireless commitment to crushing foes with equal parts ferocity and pinpoint precision.

OK, so neither the Steelers (0-2, dealing with the injury loss of QB Ben Roethlisberger) nor Dolphins (0-2, combined score for both defeats: 102-10) have tasted victory this year.

However, that doesn’t really matter, since the Patriots have a cumulative tally of 76-3 for their two triumphs.

Can New England rally go undefeated again in 2019? At face value, it’s a highly presumptuous statement to make, considering the Patriots are one of nine unblemished teams through two weeks — along with the Bills, Seahawks, 49ers, Rams, Packers, Cowboys, Ravens and high-octane Chiefs.

Within that hubris, here are seven potential landmines on the remaining schedule:

SEPTEMBER 29 — @ Buffalo
SKINNY:
On paper, the 2-0 Bills (both road wins at MetLife Stadium) are ready to compete with the Patriots for the division title.

In reality, though, Buffalo has lost its last five meetings to New England by an average margin of 17.4 points … and none of the blowouts included Antonio Brown, who accounted for four catches, eight targets, 56 yards and one touchdown against the Dolphins, despite just one week of preparation with his new team.

OCTOBER 27 — vs. Cleveland
SKINNY:
The Browns won’t lose by 30 points every weekend.

In fact, at some point this season, they’ll likely resemble a playoff contender. As a bonus, Cleveland might catch New England looking ahead to its upcoming showdown with Baltimore.

Which leads us into ..

NOVEMBER 3 — @ Baltimore
SKINNY:
Lamar Jackson (596 yards passing, 7 TDs) has arguably been the NFL’s best quarterback after two weeks.

Throw in the Ravens’ eminently stingy defense (just one touchdown pass allowed) and the prime-time microscope of Sunday Night Football … and this could easily be the Patriots’ first ‘L’ of the season.

NOVEMBER 17 — @ Philadelphia
SKINNY:
The NFL didn’t do the Patriots any favors with the four-game gauntlet that lies ahead, beginning with the Eagles here and ending with the Chiefs in December.

Tough environment to endure for the opposition. Who knows, we might even have snow in the forecast in mid-November.

NOVEMBER 24 — vs. Dallas
SKINNY:
The Cowboys might possess the NFC’s best combination of prodigious running (thanks to Ezekiel Elliott and a monster O-line), offensive symmetry (QB Dak Prescott has been near-flawless in his contract year) and playmaking defense.

Of course, we’ll feel better about Dallas’s chances … AFTER it faces a team with a winning record.

The Dolphins are coming up next Sunday. So, we’ll already pencil the Cowboys in for a 3-0 start.

DECEMBER 1 — @ Houston
SKINNY:
It’s hard to get a read on the Texans through two weeks of action.

On the positive side, they’re one Drew Brees drive/miracle field goal away from being the NFL’s 10th undefeated squad.

On the negative side, Jaguars tailback Leonard Fournette ended up less than 3 inches shy of converting a two-point conversion in the final minute.

Had Fournette reached the goal line — and some vantage points suggest he reached it (see below video) — the Texans would have been mired in a 0-2 funk.

DECEMBER 8 — vs. Kansas City
SKINNY:
Privately, the Chiefs likely strike the most fear into the hearts of Patriots coaches, players and fans alike, knowing their explosive offense wears the ‘unstoppable’ tag when quarterback Patrick Mahomes hits a groove.

And after the three-game stretch of Philadelphia, Dallas and Houston, New England might not have enough gas in the proverbial tank to match Kansas City, blow for blow, on this night.

Of course, it’s impossible to foretell which variables will be at play come Week 14, regarding injuries or weather concerns.

However, there is one safe bet to make with this matchup:

Chiefs vs. Patriots will almost certainly have direct consequences for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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