It wasn’t so long ago that the Patriots were seen as a “young, unproven” team and the Jets were the trendy pick in the AFC East.
The Patriots have since taken over the mantle as Super Bowl favorites by racking up a +28 turnover margin, and playing wildly efficient on offense. (An improving defense hasn’t hurt.)
The 2010 Patriots achieved the No. 1 seed with a group of underdogs at the skill positions. In a terrific article for the New York Times, Chase Stuart looks at the draft pedigree of the team’s skill position players.
He notes that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is the only player among New England’s top eight skill position guys taken in the top-60 picks of the draft. The top two running backs were both undrafted. For comparison, the Jets have five first round picks at the skill positions, including three top-five picks.
Stuart went back and did a comparison of the pedigree of skill position talent for all 44 Super Bowl champions. The resulting formula determined the 2003 and 2004 Patriots were the two least-acclaimed champions of all time at the skill positions.
If the 2010 Patriots win it all, they will have the “worst” draft pedigree of any champion by far. This pedigree — and New England’s inexperienced young defense — is one reason why Patriots fans have to feel uncomfortable with the role of heavy favorite again.
It’s also a reason why Bill Belichick must enjoy coaching this team so much, re-making another group of seemingly spare parts into a team capable of dominance.