Most NFL observers agree that the New England Patriots' Super Bowl window is closing fast. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady turns 36 in August and head coach Bill Belichick, 61, isn’t expected to stick around much longer once Brady is gone.
Some would even make the case that New England's door is already shut after a tulmultuous offseason. Former star tight end Aaron Hernandez was released after being charged for murder and facing five additional gun charges. The Patriots lost both starting receivers: Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. And Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski is questionable for Week 1 after multiple back and arm surgeries. New England already has plenty of adversity to overcome before it takes its first snap in training camp.
But Brady remains optimistic about winning a fourth Super Bowl. He told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that his two Super Bowl losses following the 2008 and 2011 seasons were missed opportunities, but the Patriots still have a shot this year.
Here is the full quote from Brady:
“We’ve had our chances. Twice. More than twice, actually. I still have plenty of chances to do it. What I’ve learned is it’s really, really hard to win the Super Bowl. I didn’t get that perspective early, winning three out of the first four years I played. What I like about this franchise is we’ve got a shot every year. I love the fact we were in the AFC title game last year, the Super Bowl the year before that, and 14-2 the year before that. Can we win this year? It’ll be determined by our level of commitment, the mental toughness. We’ll find it out before the season. How committed are we?”
I don’t see the Patriots winning it all this year. The 2013 New England team is weaker than the group we saw the past two years -- and those teams came up short. It's doubtful that this year’s team surpasses that and wins a championship.
Still, New England remains a good team and the preseason favorite in the AFC East. Winning the division would at least put the Patriots in the playoffs to see if they can get hot at the right time.