How Much of an Advantage Can Be Gained by Having Inside Information About the Opposing Team?

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How Much of an Advantage Can Be Gained by Having Inside Information About the Opposing Team? The NFL is more than a flurry of massive, exceptionally fit athletes running around the field knocking each other's heads off. In many ways, it's as intellectual as a chess match.

Football coaches do everything they can to get their team ready to play every week. Because the NFL is loaded with talent and is extremely fast-paced, it is often the amount of preparation a team puts in during the week that leads to a victory on Sunday.

And while that preparation can entail any number of things, it all goes towards one common goal: to learn as much about the opponent as possible.

Generally, this relates to watching film of the actual game on the field. But lately, another method of gaining the edge in the NFL has been brought to the forefront — and the ethics and value of it continue to be argued.

Vikings head coach Brad Childress recently told reporters that the Patriots, and consequentially Pats head coach Bill Belichick, are "all-time great signal stealers."

Childress was referencing a 2006 game in which the Patriots manhandled the Vikings 31-7. He said his team used to signal plays with hand motions, and the Pats were able to decipher the codes "like a surgical procedure."

Tom Brady didn't exactly dispute Childress' comments on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan show on Tuesday morning, but he did say New England definitely doesn't steal signals anymore.

"Everyone has [stolen signals] probably — I’ve heard different guys in the past say that," Brady said. "That’s come and gone, it’s really, that’s been not a part of football here for a long time."

So, maybe the Patriots were really good at stealing signals — legally. And maybe they still are.

But does it matter? As long as the sign stealing is legal, how much of an advantage can actually be gained by having inside information about the opposing team?

Technically, former Patriots and current Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss has inside information on every single one of his old teammates and coaches. But meanwhile, he's having enough trouble figuring out his own new offensive schemes.

Then again, preparation is everything in the NFL. With the amount of parody and thin disparity between talent levels in the league these days, an extra bit of information every week could put one team over the top.

So, does signal stealing help an NFL team? How much does it help?

Share your thoughts below.

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