Good night for the Patriots.

Bad night for Bill Belichick.

That's about the quickest way to describe the Pats' agonizing, 18-15 loss to the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in yet another classic matchup between these NFL heavyweights.

If you're the Patriots, you have a lot to feel good about despite the loss.

Then again, Dave Thomas is probably sick to his stomach right about now. Same goes for Jabar Gaffney. And Belichick shouldn't be feeling too hot, either.



MICHAEL FELGER

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The 21st-century Patriots are the best big-game team in NFL history. In fact, nobody else is even close.

But the best news for New England?

The good times may not be over. Seemingly against all odds, the Tom Brady-less Patriots are on pace to prove the best big-game team of 2008, as well.



KERRY BYRNE

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Diversity is the name of the game here, folks. From Tom Brady trade scenarios to Greg Dickerson’s eye-liner, we cover the spectrum in this week’s mailbag. We even give you some straight football talk.

But enough of my yakking. Let’s boogie….

--

Subj: Are you kidding me?

Felger,



MICHAEL FELGER

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We have come to praise the Patriots defense.

Or at least give it a little bit of credit.

As you all know, I'm a glass-is-half-full kind of guy (ahem). So I don't look at the coverage problems the Pats had in their 23-16 win over St. Louis on Sunday. I don't look at the plays over the top or the 301 passing yards allowed. I look at the flow of the game and the job the defense did keeping the Pats in it when the Rams had several chances to blow it open. Seriously.



MICHAEL FELGER

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FOXBORO -- There are times the numbers lie, and if you doubt that just look at Matt Cassel the last two games.

A week ago Cassel was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week against Denver after throwing for three touchdowns without an interception and a 136.3 quarterback rating. Those who actually looked at the game and not just the stat sheet realized Cassel wasn't even the best offensive player on his team, never mind the conference. But, hey, the numbers were good.



MICHAEL FELGER

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It seemed like the perfect place to watch Game 7.

For Mike Lowell and his wife, Bertha, the New York City bar resided just a few blocks from the hospital where he would be undergoing surgery the next day. And the fact that just about the only six people in the place were Red Sox fans offered an even greater sense of affirmation.

“People were in there wearing Red Sox hats and t-shirts,” Lowell said. “It was awesome.”



ROB BRADFORD

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You guys worried about Tom Brady yet? I'm starting to get there.

I don’t know what the odds are that the doomsday scenario (Brady on the shelf until 2010) plays out. Is it 1-in-10? 1-in-50? 1-in-100? I don’t care. If there’s any chance Brady doesn’t come through this with his health intact, I don’t like it. As it is, some doctors have said the odds of Brady getting to this point (i.e., suffering an infection following ACL surgery) were 1-in-200.



MICHAEL FELGER

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This is how the other half lives – feasting on victory one week, starving for success the next.

It’s actually kind of exciting, not to mention a long-lost feeling for New England football fans.

For years, every Sunday seemed like Thanksgiving in New England, as the Patriots gobbled up more victories more frequently and by bigger margins than any team in history.

New Englanders lost all touch with reality during these heady days. The biggest problem last year, for example, was when the team was accused of running up the score.



KERRY BYRNE

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This is going to be a uniformly positive report card, as you would expect following a 41-7 blowout win. But before we get started, I think it’s important to ask a simple question that, unfortunately, serves as something of a caveat to the Patriots performance:

What happened to the Broncos?



MICHAEL FELGER

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I know we’re not quite at the mid-point of the season, but I figured now is as good a time as any to take a look at the Patriots from a fantasy perspective.



KIRK MINIHANE

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