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Don't Count Out Patriots Because Randy Moss Is In Minnesota

The Jets haven't been handed the division crown

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    NEWSLETTERS

    There were a couple of quick, universal reactions to the news that the Patriots traded Randy Moss to the Vikings for a third-round draft pick.

    The first was "Holy s---, I can't believe the Patriots just traded one of the most dynamic players in the history of the league for a third-round draft pick" and the other was "Wow, life just got a lot easier for the Jets." Making sense of the former helps explain why the latter is a foolish thought to have at this point in time.

    As more and more news about arguments with coaches and nonexistent effort started filtering out out of Boston, it became much easier to comprehend why the Patriots made their decision. If you watched Moss going through the motions on Monday night in Miami, you understood that offenses can't run with 10 guys and one slouch even if that slouch is occassionally capable of beating the entire defense for a highlight reel-worthy touchdown.

    What's more, the Patriots offense has been cooking this season without much contribution from Moss. He's dropped five passes, Tom Brady has made great use of unheralded players like Aaron Hernandez and Danny Woodhead and, in case anyone has forgotten, the Pats have lost key players time and again over the years without missing a beat. Richard Seymour, Deion Branch and Asante Samuel were all key contributors who were sent packing. You might even recall that they were able to win 11 games with Matt Cassel playing quarterback instead of Brady.

    There's a good argument to be made for how Moss's mere presence opened things up for other offensive players. The Pats will have to prove that slaughtering teams underneath is still possible without having a deep threat of Moss's stature, but are you really betting against Bill Belichick here? Brandon Tate has captured his eye and that means there will still be defensive coaches worrying about what the Hooded Genius has up his sleeve.

    And, being totally honest, it isn't like losing Moss somehow makes the offense the biggest issue in New England. This move is going to be sliced and diced more than a frog in a high school biology class, yet none of what anyone will find will have anything to do with the defense. If the Patriots fall short of the playoffs this year, it will almost certainly be that profligate side of the ball that is to blame.

    Throw in the fact that Moss figures to be awfully motivated on Monday night and it's suddenly a lot harder to see the Jets as winners of this deal.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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