The word in Vegas over the weekend was that the New England Patriots were overmatched in their opener against the Arizona Cardinals.  Road game against a tough opponent, no Brady. So my friend Jim Donaldson, a sports columnist for the Providence Journal, who is taking a buyout after almost 40 years working for the Journal, called me up and talked about a “huge financial opportunity.”

Donaldson is also a Notre Dame graduate, which means he has an opinion about everything.  He also is not a big fan of Patriot coach Bill Belichick, giving only grudging approval to the accomplishments of a coach who has won four Super Bowls.

Donaldson’s argument was that without the presence of Tom Brady, Belichick would probably have 0 rings.

He told me to jump on the Cardinals, giving 6.5 points. When he heard that the Patriots would also be without tight end Rob Gronkowski and the line went to nine points, he was still calling the game a “Cardinal lock.”  The Patriots would also be missing a pair of starting offensive linemen, which further strengthened Jimmy D’s resolve.

I listened and pointed out that any Belichick-coached team with more than six months to prepare for a game was dangerous. Donaldson discounted it, maintaining that the Cardinals would not only win but “cover.”

So naturally, I watched with a more than a little bit of amusement when the Patriots led by fill-in quarterback Jimmy Garappolo went out and performed like a team with Brady at QB in a 23-21 “upset” of the Cardinals.

The magic of Belichick, who keeps doing this with different lineups, different quarterbacks, offensive linemen, wide receivers, was again on display.  Donaldson is no doubt spending a few days in the Arizona desert, working on his golf game and worrying about ND’s game against Michigan State on Saturday.

The point of this is that Belichick is a difference maker, no matter who plays.  And it should also be pointed out that two of Belichick’s disciples/friends/compatriots are Alabama coach Nick Saban and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.