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Learn lesson from Pats

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Evan from Los Angeles, CA:
What team do you think will be the one to overtake the Patriots in the AFC? What do you have to do to beat them because, so far, none of the NFL's best have been able to come up with an answer.

Vic: I don't know what team will overtake the Patriots, but you can bet it will happen. Although the Patriots have certainly foiled the concept of parity, it'll eventually win. Plus, I also believe in the philosophy that the longer you win the closer you get to losing. As far as beating them, I think the formula is very simple. All you have to do is look at what the teams that have beaten the Patriots have done: Rush, sack and intercept Tom Brady. In the Steelers' stunningly easy midseason win over the Patriots, Brady was sacked four times and intercepted twice, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Doing that, of course, is easier said than done. I thought the Eagles would do that to Brady. I really thought Jevon Kearse would have a big game and I thought the Eagles' blitz would get to Brady. I was wrong. In my opinion, the Patriots' ability to protect Brady, especially the ability to pick up the blitz, was the difference in the game.

Sam from Largo, FL:
Am I wrong for doubting Donovan McNabb's ability? I know that without him the Eagles wouldn't be in the Super Bowl, but throughout the evening all I heard was that he was throwing the ball off. Am I accurate in my statement?

Vic: Don't doubt Donovan McNabb's ability. He is a sensational talent. He played as well or better than Tom Brady in the Eagles' two playoff wins. Unfortunately for McNabb, he did not play as well in the Super Bowl as he did in the NFC playoffs. He was strangely up and down last night. His two touchdown throws were magnificent. They were extremely accurate and crisp throws. The second one, which tied the game at 14-14, was so sharp that I thought it would light a fire under the Eagles. But just when it looked like the Eagles were coming on, their defense collapsed. Does that sound familiar? Isn't that what happened to Pittsburgh in the AFC title game? Maybe it's the Patriots' offense, huh? Getting back to McNabb, he has joined the ranks of ultra-productive quarterbacks who haven't been able to win the big one. Peyton Manning, of course, is that band's drum major. Once upon a time, you might remember, John Elway was one of those quarterbacks. Should we have doubted his ability? Don't doubt McNabb's talent. I believe he'll win the big one some day, but I will make this observation: I thought he looked like he was tight last night. He's a guy who laughs a lot on the field and gives the appearance of being very loose, but I can't help but wonder if that's not an act meant to convince himself more than anyone else. He may be shouldering too much of the load with the Eagles. That was Elway's problem in Denver, until he got Terrell Davis.

E.J. from Jacksonville:
I think that after last night's game it's safe to say the best two acquisitions in the offseason were Corey Dillon and Terrell Owens, two players who were considered cancers for their teams. Now would you trade for Randy Moss?

Vic: No, so stop trying. Randy Moss is a special kind of ill. That's my opinion, of course, and you're allowed to have yours. Dillon was acquired for a second-round pick, by a team that had a slew of high draft choices and could certainly afford to spend one in a trade. The Patriots believed Dillon's discontent was the result of a relationship with the Bengals that had gone sour. They truly believed Dillon only needed a new environment. There was also precedent for that kind of a trade; Jerome Bettis was acquired for a second-round pick. For all of those reasons, Dillon was a comfortable risk for the Patriots. If he didn't buy into Bill Belichick's program, Belichick could cut him loose and all it would've cost is a second-round pick, and the Pats had enough extra picks to make up for that loss. Owens was more costly to the Eagles, but they had a very healthy salary cap that could take the hit and if they were ever going to get over the top they would have to get Donovan McNabb the big-play receiver he needed. The Jaguars' situation is completely different. It is a young team on the rise, still needing to add players. It is not, in my opinion, one player away. I don't like trading away a first-round pick I could use on an affordable, young player I might develop in my program, for an expensive, older guy who was developed in someone else's program. I especially wouldn't make that trade for a guy who is as off the wall as Moss is. With all of that having been said, ask yourself this: Would Belichick trade for Moss?

Pete from Jacksonville:
You raised the question of how long the Patriots' dynasty will last. It's pretty scary thinking about it, as they're well under the salary cap, not mortgaging their future by spending for expensive free agents and keeping big-name veterans who are over the hill. Second, their quarterback is still young and, barring injury, may even surpass Bradshaw in Super Bowl wins. What can teams do to prevent this monster's winning rampage? Should they try to emulate them in this copycat league?

Vic: Everybody points to the Patriots' team concept, and that's a nice, feel-good story, but let's deal in the facts, not the fairy tale. The Patriots have won three Super Bowls in four years because they were fortunate enough, or smart enough, to draft Tom Brady in the sixth round. Do you think they'd be sitting on three Super Bowl wins today if Drew Bledsoe was still their quarterback? Lucky or smart, it doesn't matter. The lesson is: Don't waste your late-round picks on long-snappers. Is there any doubt Brady was the best available player when he was selected? That's who you should always pick; the best available player.

Scott from Beloit, WI:
What would you say the best game of the season was? I'm kind of partial to the Jags-Steelers game.

Vic: I think the three popular choices would be the Steelers game, Packers game and second Colts game. I don't know how it gets any better than the Steelers and Colts games.

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