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2017 Patriots should be better than 2007 team that dominated NFL

Comparing the 2007 New England squad to the 2017 Pats
2017, Patriots, 2007, team, NFL
Tom Brady and Randy Moss were a lethal combo in 2007. Getty Images

The Patriots haven’t loaded up like this ahead of a season since 2007. Yup, it’s been nearly 10 years since the Pats came up just a couple plays short of going a perfect 19-0.

There are whispers that that’s their goal this season, so for the hell of it – let’s compare the Pats’ current roster to the ’07 squad.

 

Quarterback

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Tom Brady was a ripe 30-years-old in 2007. He has shown zero signs of slowing down as he approaches age 40 (he’ll turn the big 4-0) on Aug. 3.

While Brady is now a master of the position, his 2007 season statistically was otherworldly. The 50 TDs he threw that year is still easily his best mark (second best was 39 in 2011) and he had his best passer rating that year (117.2), too. Last season, Brady threw 28 TD passes and had a 112.2 passer rating. Not too shabby.

We’ll call 2007 Brady vs. 2017 Brady a wash.

Where this year’s Pats have the edge is at the backup position. Jimmy Garoppolo plays mistake-free football, as he’s yet to throw a career INT in 94 pass attempts. In just 39 attempts in his first three years in New England, Cassel threw two interceptions. Cassel also threw 11 picks in that 2008 season in which he played 16 games.

Edge: 2017 Patriots

 

Running back

Much like it looks like the Pats will do in 2017, they employed something of a running back by committee approach in 2007. Laurence Maroney ran for 835 yards that year. Sammy Morris ran for 384. Kevin Faulk dashed for 265 and had 383 yards of receiving.

Expect the Pats to be able to match that production this season with Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis and James White as options.

Edge: Push

 

Wide receiver/Tight end

One could easily make the case that 2007 Randy Moss was the most unstoppable receiver ever (yes, Jerry Rice included). Moss racked up 1,493 yards receiving and found the end zone 23 times. Brady’s No. 2 option that year was a 26-year-old Wes Welker, who caught 112 balls for 1,175 yards. Donte’ Stallworth chipped in with 697 yards and tight end Ben Watson found the end zone six times.

If – and it’s a big if – Rob Gronkowski can stay healthy this season, he can remarkably be as dominant a player as Moss was that season. Julian Edelman – because of age (he’s 31) – will not likely have as good a season as Welker did that year. What puts the 2017 Pats over the top here is Brandin Cooks. The 23-year-old is coming off back-to-back 1,110-yard receiving seasons and gives Brady his best downfield option since Moss.

Edge: 2017 Patriots

 

Offensive line

Much was made about the Giants defense roughing up the Pats’ O-line in the 2007 Super Bowl. They sacked Brady five times.

This past Super Bowl, the Falcons sacked Brady five times.

Marcus Cannon, Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason and David Andrews are nice players, but I’ll take that Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal group.

Edge: 2007 Patriots

 

Secondary

Let’s call Asante Samuel and Stephon Gilmore a wash. Malcolm Butler easily has his way with Ellis Hobbs. Rodney Harrison was 35 that year, but still a strong player, and James Sanders was underrated. Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty are both very good players.

Where the 2017 Pats have the edge is depth. Eric Rowe had his moments last year, Duron Harmon is vastly underrated and Cyrus Jones has a boatload of potential.

Edge: 2017 Patriots

 

Linebackers

Tedy Bruschi was long in the tooth at the age of 34. Rosevelt Colin was decent. Adalius Thomas didn’t live up to expectations, and Mike Vrabel was getting up there in age too at 32 years of age. The Patriots currently have a younger linebacker corps, led by 27-year-old Don’t’a Hightower, but the Pats’ depth in 2007 was much stronger.

Edge: 2007 Patriots

 

Defensive line

Vince Wilfork was just 26 during the 2007 season and was absolutely dominant. Ty Warren and Jarvis Green were strong players. Richard Seymour was injured for much of that campaign.

Today, Alan Branch is another vastly underrated player and Malcom Brown came into his own last season. Lawrence Guy was a key pickup here, as was Kony Ealy.

Still, Wilfork was friggin’ amazing when he was a young buck.

Edge: 2007 Patriots

 

Final verdict

Go figure, the final count for this exercise was: 3-3. Where I think the 2017 squad might have the edge is that it will be facing a weaker field. Remember, in 2007 the AFC was still stacked. Peyton Manning was in his prime in Indy. The Steelers were two seasons removed from a Super Bowl win and one season away from another one. The Chargers, led by LaDainian Tomlinson, were still a strong threat.

This coming year in the AFC, there isn’t really one team in the AFC that should have Bill Belichick shaking in his jumpsuit. The Steelers still have Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell – but they were totally outclassed in the AFC title game and the Pats added more quality talent this offseason than Pittsburgh did.

Houston doesn’t have a QB who is ready. Kansas City doesn’t scare anyone. Denver has a new head coach and a QB problem.

The Raiders, with a healthy Derek Carr and Marshawn Lynch on board, seem like the only real threat in the AFC at this juncture, but they haven't proven anything in the playoffs yet.

Moment of truth: I’ll take the 2017 Pats. Yup, expectations are that high.

 
 
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