Trent Dilfer: Patriots can, in fact, be beaten

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
8:53
AM ET
The New England Patriots look invincible.

They've demolished division leaders the past two weeks like they were college programs. They've scored 28 or more points seven straight weeks. Tom Brady has thrown at least two touchdown passes and no interceptions six games in a row.

The Patriots own the NFL's best record and were the first team to clinch a playoff berth with Sunday's 36-7 victory over the Chicago Bears.

ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer presented his best strategy for a Patriots opponent to beat them.

"I've been asked a lot: How do you stop the New England Patriots?" Dilfer said. "Very, very simple [answer]. You can't. The only hope is that they stop themselves.

"Everybody in the National Football League tends to beat themselves at times -- penalties, turnovers, mental mistakes. For some reason, the New England Patriots don't do that. Call it coaching. Call it poise. Call it the Patriot Way. They don't beat themselves."

The Patriots lead the NFL with a gaudy plus-18 turnover margin. They rank 28th in total penalties and 20th in penalty yards. They're averaging a league-high 31.9 points per game.

"But if all the sudden you start to see some penalties creep up on the Patriots, the ball get turned over or they make foolish field-position mistakes," Dilfer continued. "That's the only thing that's going to stop this offense. It's clicking on all cylinders. They have a great confidence level in what they're doing, and they're tricking people with how they're playing offensive football.

"But never underestimate how quickly a team can beat themselves -- even the New England Patriots -- in the National Football League."

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