The New England Patriots made a slew of huge deals in the offseason, bolstering a Super Bowl-winning roster with the additions of Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore among others, while also re-signing defensive captain Dont'a Hightower.
On Tuesday's episode of "Undisputed", Skip Bayless, Shannon Sharpe and Cris Carter explained why New England will be the overwhelming favorite to win a second-consecutive Super Bowl next February.
The Patriots are outrageously better than the rest of the NFL
“All I know is that in all my years of covering the National Football League, which is a lot of years, I can never remember - on April 25 - a more prohibitive favorite than New England is today. Now you two know all too well how much can go wrong in August and September and October, but right here, right now? They are outrageously better than anybody else in the National Football League.
"Let’s get this straight. Now they are able to keep Malcolm Butler to be able to pair with their free-agent signing, Stephon Gilmore. Buffalo has also allowed them to keep Mike Gillislee. And I don’t know how many people know him, but every time I watched Buffalo play New England or anybody else, he would leap off my TV screen because he hits the hole hard.”
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
New England might have found another star in Mike Gillislee
“And then I start looking at these second-level numbers - and I’m not really into all this - but he led the NFL in yards per rush and rushes per touchdown and first-down rate and third-down conversion rate. All those numbers that really matter to a running back, on a small sample size, he did. I think he’s really good, and I’m starting to think that New England just pulled another Chris Hogan on Buffalo and stole another player who’s going to be really good in a small way for New England.
"So, wait a second. Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy and they kept Dont’a Hightower… I don’t even know who the second-best team in the NFL is today. [New England] is head and shoulder pads above the field right now.”
Bob DonnanBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots look better than 2016's Super Bowl-winning team
“I agree with everything you said, because think about it. The Broncos won Super Bowl 50, and on Monday the Patriots opened up as the favorite. So if the Patriots win Super Bowl 51, you automatically assume - and on paper, they look better than the team that actually won the Super Bowl.
"And you mentioned something very interesting in that stat, Skip. You [mentioned] a small sample size… and that’s exactly how the Patriots will use him. In that same small sample size to maximize what he can do really well. They’re not going to all of a sudden… he had 135 touches, try and bump that up to 200. Because guess what? We still have James White. We still have Dion Lewis. We’ve got Rex Burkhead, now we’ve got Gillislee. So they’re stacked.”
Kirby LeeKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
New England would have been the favorite even without these additions
“But here’s the thing. I don’t care that they’ve got Gillislee. I don’t care that they traded for Dwayne Allen. I don’t care if they’ve got Stephon Gilmore. As long as they’ve got the Bs, Brady and Belichick, they’re going to be the favorite.
"Now a lot of things can happen between April 25 and the time the season starts, because I still believe everybody’s an injury away from upsetting the entire apple cart. But as long as they can stay healthy - and I still want to see how well Brady plays at the age of 40. I know what he looked like at 39, he had a quarter-of-a-season break not playing. But playing [at] 40, and playing all 16 games is a different story. So we’ll see.”
Greg M. CooperGreg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Belichick is embracing a win-now, NBA-style mentality
“If this was any of the other 31 teams around the league that we have seen over the last 10 years since free agency [became] what it is today… we’ve seen some teams go out in the offseason, Philadelphia a number of years ago announced themselves as ‘the dream team.’ Remember that? Washington had thought they had gotten the answer with Albert Haynesworth and realized he was nothing but a bunch of questions.
"We’ve seen, over the last 30 years, some of the dominant teams [make moves]. San Francisco, when they had Joe Montana, added a couple other veterans, a pass rusher. We saw Dallas with the triplets add Deion Sanders. So we knew they were already dominant-type teams, and they went out and added these other pieces.
"Not in this new NFL have we seen, where there is so much parity, have we seen the New England Patriots clearly that much better in the offseason. Because, to me, what Belichick has done is ingenious. He’s adopted the NBA theory."
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
New England is going all-in on winning another title
“If you look at the teams in the NBA now, those draft picks are not worth anything. If you want to be a good team in the NBA, you’ve got to get old.
"What does New England do? They get older. Forget those draft picks. Forget the salary cap. Let’s get us some older guys who I believe our coaches can coach them up better than when they were on your team.
"So Malcolm Butler? I know they’re saying he’s not up for trade, but I believe in the next three days he could still be traded, because that’s what Belichick does. If you give him a deal he can’t refuse…
"But they’ve changed their philosophy with the draft. They’re getting out of the draft and they’re getting older, just like the NBA teams, to try to win a championship. And it’s amazing to see the best of the best try to get just a little bit better. That’s what we’re seeing with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.”