Comes down to two things as I see it: Injuries and Finishing. Neither are very predictable.
Look at the Pats teams that went to the Super Bowls. All had a remarkable ability to stay healthy at the key spots, of course the Gronk AFCCG injury in 2011 was devastating, but the 2007 team really only lost Rosevelt Colvin and they had the LB depth to overcome that.
But the biggest difference between the three teams that won the Super Bowl and the two that didn’t was simply a matter of finishing. Both the 2007 and 2011 teams had a lead late in fourth quarter. Neither could make that last stop on Eli. The 2001, 2003 and 2004 made those late clutch plays to close the game out.
Does the 2014 team have that ability to close out the biggest game on the biggest stage? It certainly appears they have the talent at the right spots to do so. But it’s a game of inches and it’s impossible to know who will get that crucial bounce or make that impossible play (hello Brady’s final drives to set up Vinatieri’s GW FGs in 2001 and 2003, Rodney Harrison’s interception of McNabb in 2004, David Tyree’s helmet catch and Eli’s pinpoint throw to Manningham).
If this team stays healthy, especially Rob Gronkowski, they have to be considered to be neck and neck with the best teams in the NFL on paper. We’ll see how they look on paper come January, but I certainly like their chances and their experience across the board.