Never one to shy from controversy, Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs said Wednesday, "There are 32 teams in the NFL. I guarantee the other 31 hate the New England Patriots." Suggs may be overstating, but here are the top five reasons to loathe Bill Belichick's squad:
5. The Brady Rule » Suggs may find himself in trouble for saying referees protect Tom Brady more than other quarterbacks, but anyone who watches a game rooting against the Patriots ends up with similar suspicions.
4. Spygate » What the Patriots actually were doing is often misunderstood. But the team unquestionably violated NFL rules in an attempt to gain an advantage, and the league's decision to destroy all the evidence makes the whole thing seem fishy.
3. Spoiled fans » Oh, for the days when Boston fans were lovable losers. Now the New England caterwauling is audible from Washington if one of its teams has the temerity to lose early in the playoffs.
2. Running up the score » Belichick has regularly kept starters in all game and kept throwing downfield in an attempt to embarrass opponents, even if it hurts his own team. Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm late in a 35-point win over the Colts this year and missed most of the playoffs after his arm was reinjured.
1. The culture of Belichick » Yes, they are a top team that's always in contention. But not everything the Patriots do is inherently the right decision. Belichick has whiffed on draft picks and made regrettable moves for players such as Chad Johnson, Albert Haynesworth and Brandon Lloyd, but he still gets discussed as an infallible personnel wizard.
- Elliot Smilowitz