This week's 5 Questions segment is with 'tommasse' of our fine New England blog, Pats Pulpit. My answers to his questions should also be posted over there today. Go check 'em out.
By the way, I am making you wait until just a bit later today for the Cheerleader of the Week. Trust me, you won't mind the wait.
Anyway, on with this week's 5 Questions. By the way, I'm anticipating some reaction to the comments below about Osi Umenyiora.
Big Blue View: With the perfect regular season on the line, how seriously will the Patriots play this game? Will they go all out, or will the primary goal be protecting players for a Super Bowl run?
Pats Pulpit: With a first-round bye and this game on a Saturday, the Patriots will play a normal game, unless it's a total blowout. Bill Belichick, as much as he's a coach, is a football historian. This potentially is history.
There is little reason not to play a normal game. People who say "What about injuries?" have never played football. You don't play or not play thinking about getting injured. That's how you get injured. Some players that are injured now probably will not play as much, but the healthy players probably will play at least three quarters.
BBV: Win or lose on Saturday, does this season turn into a failure if the Patriots do not win the Super Bowl?
Pulpit: A disappointment, yes. A failure? No. And Saturday's outcome makes a big difference. A loss Saturday and not winning the Super Bowl would be extremely disappointing. But a 16-0 record means a lot, despite what many people say. So many people dismissed the possibility even as recently as before the Pittsburgh game. With so many teams falling short in the past, even the recent past, many have said that it's simply "not possible."
There are currently four 15-1 teams in NFL history. Two lost the conference championship, two won the Big One. With New England flirting with 16-0, they're still talking about all four of those teams, even though two didn't win the Super Bowl. Finishing 16-1, 17-1 or 18-1 would be extremely disappointing, but the Patriots still would have accomplished what many have said is impossible, something many of us may never see again in our lifetimes.
BBV: Tom Brady or Randy Moss for MVP? Which one, and why?
Pulpit: Brady. Clearly, the level of play of both players is elevated by the presence of the other. Moss adds a new dynamic to the team, but Brady's Patriots won three titles (almost four) without Moss. Moss has posted some incredible numbers in his career, but he's also been very average without a great quarterback. Brady has proven year after year that he's among the greats with even junior varsity receivers.
The Patriots still succeed without Moss, but probably not so much without Brady. But really, it's a small matter. The Patriots and their fans are more interested in wins and what we hope comes with them.
BBV: If you could take one player off the Giants' roster and put him in New England's lineup who would it be?
Pulpit: If I'm taking him for Saturday only, I'm taking Brandon Jacobs. As good as Laurence Maroney has looked recently, it still was against the Jets and the Dolphins. Maroney was far more effective when he had Sammy Morris in reserve, and I think he'd benefit having someone like Jacobs this weekend and in the playoffs.
Long term, I'd take either Osi Umenyiora or Gibril Wilson. It might be hard to find a place for Umenyiora. I doubt he'd be happy as a backup, and it's often unwise to put a 4-3 lineman into a 3-4 system, so that makes me reluctant. Meanwhile, Wilson has a lot of upside in a position where New England has felt the pain of injuries for several years. Sam Madison would be a consideration, too, if he wasn't 33.
BBV: Looking ahead to the playoffs and a potential Super Bowl, is there one team out there that really scares you?
Pulpit: Some worry more than others, but none scare me. New England has already beaten four of the playoff locks, all division winners. Two more teams the Patriots have already beaten could still make the playoffs, and a win Saturday could make up to seven. Can you imagine that? All the talk about a "weak schedule" and they could potentially have regular-season wins over seven playoff teams? Lots of "ifs" there, but there's no reason to be scared of them.