Has the Patriots dynasty been toppled?

The New England Patriots won 14 games and the AFC East title. Tom Brady will be the NFL's consensus most valuable player. Bill Belichick is in the discussion for coach of the year. They had nine Pro Bowlers and fielded a young defense that improved noticeably as the season advanced. They own three of the top 33 picks in April's draft.

And their dynasty is over?

That's what Mark Kreidler contends in a column for ESPN.com.

... the long view is the one that is concerned with teams' places in history, standing among the elites, and all that rot. On that basis, there's really no choice but to conclude that the Patriots' dynasty, as it was thought of, is done.

Still competitive? Oh, without a doubt. Nobody goes 14-2 in the NFL by accident. But "dynasty" equals titles. Dynastic teams win it all. And that is as hard as hell to do.

Ask Pittsburgh. Ask Dallas. Ask San Francisco. It goes by in a blur, the "era" does.

Page 2 columnist Gregg Easterbrook doesn't make that leap, but he does have a theory on why the Patriots have lost three straight postseason games dating back to their undefeated-erasing Super Bowl loss:

The football gods are not yet finished punishing Bill Belichick for Spygate.

Easterbrook wonders if the gods will continue to rebuke Belichick until the coach admits he cheated.