There's no denying it, football season is upon us. Friday night marked the first time the 2013 New England Patriots took the field. However, it was a very different team than the one that walked off the field last January. Sound familiar?
Both the Bruins and Patriots underwent a pretty serious makeover during the off-season. Familiar faces left in free agency, and once promising young stars were shipped out of town.
But that's not the only similarity the two teams hold. Beyond sharing last minute heartbreak in recent championship games, both have a 36-year old leader looking for another shot at post-season glory, and both enter the new season with their fair share of questions.
So who has a better chance of winning another championship before their window of opportunity closes?
By professional sports standards, Zdeno Chara and Tom Brady are considered wise old men. Both are elite, well-conditioned athletes that could play well into their 40s, but 40 is now only four years away. When you hear about the Patriots or Bruins status as contending teams, it's always prefaced with "As long as they have Brady/Chara..." Neither organization has a plan for the inevitable, so they've adopted a "win now" mentality.
The teams around them have changed during their tenures, but they've been built around #12 and #33.
The Kids Are
Alright Not Doing So Great...
Remember when the Bruins had a rich prospect pool to work with, led by #2 overall pick Tyler Seguin? Well, Seguin wasn't developing into the "professional" Boston had hoped he would, and he was traded to Dallas in a blockbuster deal last month.
Remember when the Patriots re-signed their young, versatile tight-end Aaron Hernandez through 2018? Then Aaron had to get all murdery in North Attleboro (and was really, really bad at covering his tracks).
Obviously, no one is comparing the situations surrounding the departure of the two players. But, both franchises are moving on, and the story lines won't disappear. That being said, the future is a little brighter for Seguin (who will score like 40 goals in Dallas but calm down he wouldn't do that in Boston) than it is for Hernandez...
The Young Defense
It's no secret that the Patriots have been slowly rebuilding their defense for the better part of the last five seasons. Chandler Jones, Devin McCourty, and Alfonzo Dennard are just three young players on a roster with literally dozens of first or second year players. You'll notice that the teams that won those championships in the early 2000s were rosters built with veteran, experienced defenders. Coach Bill Belichick has been looking to coach up a young defense that has improved in front of our eyes over the last three years.
For the Bruins, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, and Matt Bartkowski will be expected to contribute to the team's success in a big way in 2013-2014. It will be interesting to see if general manager Peter Chiarelli sticks with the young'uns, or if he looks to bring in a veteran presence to stabilize the blue line.
The Championship Window
It's hard to believe the last New England Super Bowl victory came nine seasons ago. The Patriots now hold the hilarious distinction of having the longest championship drought in Boston sports. Two fourth quarter comebacks by The Team That Shall Not Be Named in 2008 and 2012 robbed Tom Brady of two more titles, and dropped #12's Super Bowl record to 3-2.
The Bruins looked to recreate the success the Patriots enjoyed in 2002 and 2004 by winning two championships in three seasons, but came just short of that goal in 2013. Their roster has been re-tooled, and the expectation is for Boston to compete for another championship in 2014.
So what do you think, who has the best chance of capturing another championship?