It’s a game you can’t play with any other National Football League dynasty, in part due to free agency but mostly because this stay at the top has persisted for so doggone long.

How do you rank the Patriots’ six Super Bowl championship teams from best to (for lack of a better word) worst?

Even though this monster Bill Belichick and Tom Brady built started out with three titles in four years and is working on three-out-of-five now, no two of the snowflakes in this blizzard have been alike.

Here’s my stab at ranking that history, in ascending order:

6. LIII – Just remember Cordarrelle Patterson was the starting tailback for a while. Sony Michel, when healthy, showed glimpses of being the team’s first legitimate every-down back in more than a decade, and Rex Burkhead and James White hit-and-missed in their roles as consummate Patriots. Brady, while hardly a has-been (4,355 yards, 29 TD, 11 INT), struggled to assemble the pieces until Julian Edelman’s return and Josh Gordon’s temporary arrival. Stephen Gilmore, Patrick Chung and twins Devin and Jason McCourty made the secondary a strength after it had been the defense’s weakness for too many years, Kyle Van Noy was everything you’d expect out of a leading tackler whom no casual football fan in America could pick out of a whodunit lineup. Rob Gronkowski was the guy in the true twilight of his career, with contributions you had to see on film to fully appreciate. As for the offensive line, go ahead, name one of ’em in five seconds or less. But they stayed healthy and mostly kept Brady on his feet.

5. XXXVI – Brady was a game manager (18 TD, 12 INT). Antowain Smith (1,157 yards, 12 TD) was better than you remember. Troy Brown (101 receptions, 1,199 yards, five TD) starred as the original Edelman. David Patten (51) emerged as the only other guy on the team with more than 30 catches. Otis Smith led the defense with five interceptions, but Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy made that secondary sing. Defense had Tedy Bruschi entering his overachieving prime and the likes of Roman Phifer, Bobby Hamilton and Anthony Pleasant actually out-performing the two guys in the Canton conversation, Richard Seymour and Willie McGinest. O-line had a patchwork feel, but rookie left tackle Matt Light had staying power, and Damien Woody was legit. Oh, and Adam Vinatieri became the other original Edelman, apparently securing his Hall of Fame credentials for his performance in two games.

4. XLIX – Brady (4,109 yards, 33 TD 9 INT) showed no signs of decline at 37, all with Jonas Gray as his team’s leading rusher. Lest we forget, Gray accumulated half those 412 yards in one game before big-timing himself out of football through Belichick’s doghouse door. Edelman caught 92 passes after nobody could imagine how the Patriots would ever “replace” Wes Welker. Gronkowski grabbed 82, including a dozen touchdown passes, while failing to start a half-dozen games. Brady even made Brandon LaDrop, err, I mean LaFell, look like a serviceable NFL receiver. Jamie Collins (remember him​?) and Dont’a Hightower each surpassed the century mark in tackles. For a team that became immortal on the shoulders of a goal-line, game-ending interception, it’s worth noting nobody had more than two picks during the regular season. By now, Stephen Gostkowski had long since proven there was life after Vinatieri. Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer were better than fair-to-middling bookends on the offensive line.

3. XXXVIII – Brady completed 60.4 percent of his passes, which is pedestrian by today’s standards. His 23 TD and 13 INT were a mere shadow of what was to come. Deion Branch, his leading receiver, had 57 (fifty-seven!) catches. Smith and Kevin Faulk morphed into a two-headed monster, Faulk as that vintage third-down option. Defense carried the team, even after Belichick supplied the ultimate summer motivational tactic by cutting Milloy. Rodney Harrison arrived in town as the “glue guy” from central casting to hold it all together and give the Patriots an edge. Law and Bruschi were at their peak. Seymour finally scratched the surface of his Pro Bowl potential, combining with McGinest and Mike Vrabel for 23 of the team’s 41 sacks. The right side of the offensive line, Joe Andruzzi and Tom Ashworth, in true Patriots’ fashion, were undrafted free agents. And the kicker was still pretty good. This team rightfully was characterized as a whole greater than the sum of the parts, although after further review, the parts were pretty decent.

2. LI – Post-Deflategate suspension Brady (3,554 yards, 28 TD, 2 INT) was at his pinnacle. LaGarrette Blount’s tough yards and James White’s chain-moving catches out of the backfield were the ultimate one-two punch. Edelman (98 catches, 1,106 yards) made up for every drop you’d expect out of a high school and college quarterback with his fearlessness over the middle and that absurd catch against Atlanta. Martellus Bennett proved a godsend after Gronkowski’s season-ending injury. Hightower, Devin McCourty and Malcolm Butler were the stars of a forgettable defense, the latter squeezing every last ounce of credibility from his one moment of glory two years earlier. Rob Ninkovich was at the end of the line. Trey Flowers and Jabaal Sheard were the only pass rushers who could even sniff the quarterback. History will show this as a title won by sheer will, and yes, a franchise and region’s anger at commissioner Roger Goodell.

1. XXXIX – Brady (3,698 yards, 28 TD, 14 INT) was beginning to explode. That said, the offensive MVP was running back Corey Dillon (1,635 yards, 12 TD), who was Belichick’s first major experiment as the Jerk Whisperer, a guy who rightly figured out winning and tough love were effective means for rehabilitating malcontents. The ex-Bengal ran behind an offensive line that included Steve Neal and Brandon Gorin (“Who?” is an appropriate response here). David Givens and David Patten were targeted more than 200 times and somehow combined for only 100 catches, a testimony to Brady’s still-developing reputation as a guy who could make chicken salad out of chicken, um, by-products. Brown was running on fumes and making his weightiest contributions as a nickel back. His presence indicated the only hole on the defense. Well, there were two, but the one in Bruschi’s heart didn’t stop him from making 122 tackles before his harrowing medical emergency a week after the Super Bowl. McGinest, Vrabel, Rosevelt Colvin and Ted Johnson joined him to give the Pats a 1980s NFC linebacker corps. Seymour was an incredible match-up problem for everyone. This team beats all the others. It had the three ingredients (top-shelf QB, all-world RB, lights-out defense) the world associates with postseason success.

* Kalle Oakes spent 27 years in the Sun Journal sports department. He is now sports editor of the Georgetown (Kentucky) News-Graphic. Keep in touch with him by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @oaksie72.

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