Can The Patriots Keep Up This Pace?

Nothing like painting a big red bullseye on his back. Tom Brady's performance is beyond good, it's reached a level of greatness not seen in New England ever. While records are falling and Brady cements his place in NFL history, the undefeated season continues. Can the Patriots keep this up?

Perfection, projections and records are the hottest topics these days in Patriots Nation as New England is off to the most statically staggering start in franchise history.

The Patriots are 7-0 for the first time ever, not bad for a team that already established the longest winning streak in league history with its 21-game march through all challengers over the course of the 2003-04 campaigns. Along the way this fall New England already set a record by becoming the first team in history to start the season winning each of its first seven games by 17 points or more, besting the previous six-game mark held by the 1999 St. Louis Rams. With such dominance over the first half of the season, the talk of a perfect 16-0 march is building throughout New England, just about everywhere except in the locker room and football offices at Gillette Stadium.

As much as the team's early dominance has pundits nation-wide talking undefeated, the individual numbers being put up by the Patriots on the No. 1 offense in football are even more remarkable. It all starts with quarterback Tom Brady. Often the guy in the past who was considered great thanks to his trio of Super Bowl rings rather than gaudy numbers, Brady is having a season in which he could re-write the record books with the gaudiest of numbers.

Through seven games Brady has 27 touchdown passes. The mark is one shy of his previous career-high, and four shy of a Patriots franchise record of 31, both plateaus Brady could surpass this Sunday against the Redskins. The two-time Super Bowl MVP is on pace for 62 scores, a number that would shatter Peyton Manning's single season touchdown mark of 49. Brady set a New England franchise record with six touchdown passes Sunday against the Dolphins, besting a mark of five he'd tied just a week earlier against the Cowboys. His 11 touchdowns in the last two games also tied an NFL record.

Brady registered his first career perfect passer rating of 158.3 against Miami, the first by a Patriots passer since the 1970 merger. He's also establishing and besting his own league record each week as he's opened the season with seven straight games with at least three touchdown passes. For the year Brady has completed 169-of-229 passes (73.8 percent) for 2,125 yards with the 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions for a ridiculous seven-game passer rating of 137.9.

Clearly Brady isn't getting the job done through the air alone. Randy Moss has brought a big-play element to the Patriots passing attack that it's never seen. Moss caught a pair of scores against double coverage in Miami and has clearly earned Brady's confidence to the point where the passer is willing to just throw it up and take a shot deep on occasion regardless of what the defense is doing. Moss leads the NFL in receiving yardage (732) and touchdowns (10). He's on pace to tie Jerry Rice's league record of 22 touchdown catches and potentially break New England's franchise marks in receptions, yards and touchdowns.

But Moss isn't alone in the assault, as slot receiver Wes Welker is also putting up big numbers. Welker leads the team with 47 receptions, a number that has him on pace for 107 catches, enough to break the team's single season record. He's had consecutive 100-yard efforts, including a pair of scores against his former team last Sunday, and should join Moss as a 1,000-yard receiver for the year.

Right now Brady, Moss and the Patriots' passing attack looks unstoppable. A quarterback who's always been able to read the defense, find open receivers and make good decisions now has playmakers to work with. The results have been mind-boggling. For Patriots fans, watching games these days couldn't get much more enjoyable.

Can the Patriots go 16-0? Certainly. Will they? Maybe, as the Colts and Steelers look like the only potential challengers left on the schedule.

Can Brady keep up the current passing pace? Probably not. But with what he's done so far, even an average second half of the season will be enough get his name on a few different pages of the record books.

Regardless of how it all plays out, though, Patriots fans are enjoying the most productive, eventful, exciting season in team history. A league that's pretty much struggled with the Patriots since Bill Belichick took over in New England is getting a new dose of dominance from Foxborough. And that's an even scarier thought for the competition than the numbers that Brady and Co. are putting up.

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