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Around the NFL: Are the Patriots capable of being perfect?

A quick trip around the NFL.

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NFL: New York Giants at New England Patriots Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots won't say it, but right ingredients could place them on path to perfection

Lorenzo Reyes, USA Today

I know that none of us want to hear this kind of talk, but Reyes does make a strong case for the Patriots to finally deliver some heartbreak to those veterans of the Miami Dolphins undefeated team.

New England is coming off of a thrilling overtime victory against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. The Patriots posted the league’s best regular-season record in 2016 at 14-2 and allowed the fewest points of any team while scoring the third most. That, by the way, was with quarterback Tom Brady suspended four games. (The Patriots were 14-1 last year, including playoffs, when he played.)

Yet New England retooled in the offseason anyway and appears to have potentially gotten better.

As Ric Flair used to say, to be the man you’ve got to beat the man. For sixteen weeks this season teams will take their best shot against the defending Super Bowl champions.

Will anyone prevail?

With Aaron Donald still AWOL, rookie Tanzel Smart prepares to start Rams’ opener Sunday Vincent Bonsignore, The Press-Enterprise

When he came out of college Aaron Donald was a favorite among the Cowboys faithful. As things worked out Donald became a member of he Rams, then in St. Louis. The team has moved on to Los Angeles, but for right now one of their key pieces is currently sitting on the opposite coast.

The Rams have not ruled out Donald for opening day, but the longer he continues to hold out, the more likely it is that a sixth-round rookie will be handling the defensive tackle chores in his place. At least in public, the Rams head coach is optimistic.

“No, I wouldn’t rule him out. We’re still in the same place. I know I kind of sound monotonous where, ‘Hey we’re trying to find a solution’, which is exactly the truth. There’s no update right now.” - Sean McVay

Joe Haden won’t feel at home in Cleveland on Sunday Charean Williams, Pro Football Talk

You know Charean from her days covering the Cowboys with the Star-Telegram in Ft. Worth. Williams has moved on to a national level and now covers pro football for PFT.

Joe Haden has moved on as well and he now covers wide receivers for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His first game is the black and gold will bring him back to Cleveland where he served the Browns so well for seven seasons.

It was a business decision by the Browns that lead Haden to a division rival, and he holds no ill will. Still he will be looking to prove to Cleveland that they made a bad decision when the game starts.

“This year I’m expecting to be back, healthy, feeling good and ready to go. It was just a business decision that they made that the salary wasn’t matching up to my last two years of production. That is really how they felt so they decided that they wanted to cut my salary.” - Joe Haden

Saints' Peterson returns to Minnesota in opener Brian Hall, The Sports Xchange

Haden of course is not the only player to move on. Adrian Peterson will also be with a new team this season, and he too will be facing his old team on opening day.

After several tumultuous seasons, Peterson’s departure from Minnesota was not the “no hard feelings” type that Haden experienced with the Browns. It seemed more like a divorce.

"In my mind, we're starting and ending the season in Minnesota. Of course I want to stick it to them. I want to stick it to everyone we play. But going back to Minnesota, playing the Vikings? Yeah, I want to stick it to them.” - Adrian Peterson

To him the ultimate payback would be to hoist Mr. Lombardi’s silver football on the same field where he once was the cornerstone of the Vikings offense.