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|Peyton Hillis, Colt McCoy and Lawrence Vickers (L-R) were among the Browns who celebrated pounding Kyle Arrington (27) and the Patriots in November.|
|Reuniting Deion Branch (84) with Tom Brady (12) in the middle of the season made the Patriots -- who already had lethal Wes Welker (83) -- more deadly.|
|Ravens running back Ray Rice gashed the Patriots for 159 yards rushing in Baltimore's playoff win last season.|
|Belichick, counseling Devin McCourty (32) and Sergio Brown (38) here, is fixing his young defense on the fly. The Patriots' defense is ranked 27th.|
“The Patriots lead the league with a plus-18 turnover ratio. So, back to our question: How do you beat these Patriots? Dilfer cites the New Orleans Saints' 38-17 rout of the Patriots in 2009, a milestone on coach Sean Payton's march to the Super Bowl XLIV title. "[New Orleans defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams forced Brady to go where he wanted him to go. Through blitzing and coverage schemes, you can see their pattern: We don't want Brady to throw the ball to A. We can live with B. If he makes a mistake trying to go from B to C, we'll get home and hit him. "The whole key is disrupting the starting point. If you can do it, you've thrown off the entire mechanism by which they're successful." Who are the leading candidates? The Ravens, of course, and the Steelers can give New England a game at Gillette Stadium. One scout believes that the Kansas City Chiefs might prove a difficult playoff match. Two potent NFC teams, the Saints and Philadelphia Eagles, seem positioned to give the Patriots the most trouble; they appear to be capable of winning a 35-33 game on a neutral field, say, Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas? "It's the only thing these young players have left on their check list," Bruschi said. "Can they win a big regular-season game? Check. Can they come back after a bad loss? Check. Can they win the division? Looks like a check. The last one is, can you win in the playoffs? "If they can do that consistently, they'll be raising another banner." Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com. ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker also contributed to this feature.
We don't want Brady to throw the ball to A. We can live with B. If he makes a mistake trying to go from B to C, we'll get home and hit him.” -- ESPN analyst and former NFL QB Trent Dilfer, on a defense's ideal philosophy against Patriots QB Tom Brady