3 reasons the New England Patriots can win the Super Bowl
He is the most successful quarterback in postseason history, having won 72.4 percent of his starts with a 21-8 overall record. He was the front-runner for NFL Most Valuable Player honors for much of this season until injuries decimated New England's offensive line and sidelined top targets tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman. The latter's expected return from a foot injury for New England's second-round playoff game would provide Brady with a huge boost.
Brady's success may not have come without Belichick and vice versa. Belichick's mastery at crafting opponent-specific game plans has helped New England win four Super Bowl titles and appear in two other title games. The Patriots are 8-1 in divisional-round playoff games under Belichick when enjoying a first-round bye like New England earned this year.
An overlooked defense
Brady and Gronkowski are worthy of the attention they receive, but the performance of New England's defense has flown under the radar in comparison. The Patriots recorded 49 sacks this season, which is the highest total since Belichick became head coach in 2000. Leading the way was end Chandler Jones with 12.5. Jabaal Sheard (8) and Rob Ninkovich (6.5) have brought the heat as well. The Patriots also field blue-chip linebacker talent in Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower. The secondary isn't as smothering as last season, but Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler has improved throughout the season since assuming the No. 1 cornerback role from the departed Darrelle Revis (New York Jets).