Contrary to moron Bryant Gumbel (ala the NE/NYG game play-by-play), if the Patriots don't win the Super Bowl, then this year will have been a waste. I mean, come on, get serious for a moment, and consider this: does it matter how good your regular season was if you don't win the championship in the end? That's right, I didn't think you'd disagree. Of course it matters how you end the season.
That being said, here are a few thoughts...
- If your offense is really clicking, then Randy Moss is a good WR to have on your squad. For reference, see the 1998 Minnesota Vikings.
- Tom Brady is a very good quarterback.
- Wes Welker has really blossomed as a clutch receiver. He's open at uncanny times, and really takes the pressure off some of the other receivers.
- The New England linebackers demonstrate every week that age can be trumped by experience and desire.
So, do I think they'll go all the way and win the big game? Yeah, probably. There is, however, a significant risk of choking under the pressure. It's one thing to go undefeated in the regular season, when nothing but records are on the line. It's another thing entirely to make it through the playoffs to win the championship when it will determine how your team is forever remembered. Sure, the '98 Vikings are remembered for a good offense, but that's about it, and they went 15-1 in the regular season (only the 3rd team to do so).
As for whether or not the Patriots compare to the '72 Dolphins... that's hard to say, since the modern game is so much different from that era. Free agents, salary caps, etc., have made building a dynasty very difficulty. Pound-for-pound, I would imagine that the Patriots would make the Dolphins look rather small by modern standards. Could their running backs run all over the Pats? It's hard to know, but it seems unlikely.
In the end, though, it'll all come down to the playoffs, and whether or not the Patriots can survive to true greatness.