New England: Tom Brady still performs at a high level, but it's hard to believe that can continue much longer. If there is to be another Brady-Belichick trophy ceremony, now would be the year. The Brady-Belichick era has seen the Patriots grind out stats and records. Here are a few of the lesser-known ones: In the last decade, New England is best in the league in turnover differential, at plus-113 -- more than twice the plus-52 of Indianapolis, which ranks second. New England's 136 victories are by a comfortable margin the league's best in the last decade. New England has the best home record and the best December record. But lately, the Patriots have acquired Cincinnati Postseason Wheeze-Out Syndrome, which apparently is communicable. Over the last four seasons, in the second half of the regular season, New England is 29-3 -- then in the playoffs, New England is 4-4.
Actual title on the Patriots' masthead: Executive Director of The Hall at Patriot Place Presented by Raytheon.
Grand Compromise Missed: Recently the White House announced greenhouse gas restrictions on power plants. That's a step in the right direction, but the rules are administrative proceedings, which ensures years of delay and process costs during courtroom fights. Legislation would have been strongly preferable. The chance of a political grand compromise was lost; Barack Obama should have asked congressional Republicans to approve the power-plant initiative in return for his approving the Keystone XL pipeline. Obviously the House is a tough nut to crack, but all presidents have trouble working with the hill. Leaders take on challenges. On the missed compromise, Obama didn't even try.
Oakland: In 2013, the Raiders onside kicked six times and didn't recover any; it was that kind of year. It's been that kind of decade. The last time Oakland posted a winning record was 2002. Since jogging onto the field for Super Bowl XXXVII, the Raiders are 53-124. Ouch. And despite a huge investment in their secondary in free-agency dollars and draft choices, the Raiders allowed a league-worst 68 percent completions and were second worst with 33 touchdown passes allowed. Ouch.
The front office was expected to improve with the 2012 arrival of general manager Reggie McKenzie, but the team is 8-24 under McKenzie. To sum up his many quarterback moves involving Carson Palmer, Jason Campbell, Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor and Matt Schaub: Oakland invested first-, second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round draft selections, plus about $45 million, to obtain Schaub, tight end Mychal Rivera and two seventh-round choices in this year's draft (defensive end Shelby Harris and safety Jonathan Dowling).
For the last decade Oakland is a league-worst minus-89 in turnovers, almost double the number for the second-worst club, the Browns at minus-48. Ouch. The Raiders are on a 2-14 road skid and open with two of three on the road -- in New Jersey and Boston, where the players' body clocks will be three time zones off at kickoff. Ouch.