Patriots

Bedard: One play showed how perfect opponents have to be against this Patriots secondary

(Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The talent is one thing.

Stephon Gilmore is about as physically gifted as they come among big corners in the league. Jason McCourty still has remarkable makeup speed for a 32-year-old corner. His brother, Devin, has the same speed and is stronger. Jonathan Jones is shifty enough to play the slot, but he's better put-together than the usual diminutive nickel backs. Patrick Chung, tough as nails, doesn't have the same speed, but it's good enough against tight ends. Duron Harmon, the fail-safe in the middle, is fast enough.

Across the board, they're as good, physically, as any secondary in the league. Collectively, they also might be the smartest. Some, like Harmon, may not be the most instinctive in the middle of the play, but they're in the right spot — which is saying a lot.

Then, when you add the intelligence together with the institutional knowledge that comes with playing countless snaps together, you have an elite secondary.

And an almost impossible one to drive the field against if you're an offense, unless you can match physical talent, smarts and institutional knowledge. Very few can. The Chiefs and Eagles are on the shortlist. The Rams got exposed in the Super Bowl but perhaps they've heeded the lessons learned.

A team like the Steelers, trying to figure out what they have in the first game of the post-Killer B's era? Forget it. The tanking Dolphins? Surely you jest.

One play on Sunday showed the uphill battle many offenses have against the Patriots, especially the Jets, who are breaking in a new quarterback in Luke Falk.