Wow. You actually put some work into this one, hmills.
According to Official New England Patriots Bio of Pioli, their success was largely the product of "(t)he depth and versatility of the clubs that Pioli and Belichick ... assembled." It's hard to point to anybody that took those teams on his shoulders, although Brady got the spotlight. Gee, that sounds like what's happening in KC.
I know there's been a lot said about KC being "New England West." There've been numerous articles and comments here about what kind of players Pioli drafted, and when. And the more involved those pick-by-pick comparisons, the harder it is for me to wade through the whole thing.
but I think a lot of folks think it was Belichick and not Pioli, who engineered and orchestrated their success, and that Pioli is feebly attempting to copy the previous forms, without capturing their essence, but I think the team build philosophy and definition of value hasn't changed one bit for Pioli, and Belichick is continuing in the same fashion in NWE, although everybody thinks they're on the way down, and may only win a dozen or so regular season games.
The above was all written early season. Sorry it's dated, although "a dozen or so regular season games" should be sarcasm fonted (I just invented a verb!). It's turning out that now, in December, the Patsies are looking like the most dominant team in the league, and the Chiefs, still with some questions remaining, maintain a 1-game lead in what was thought to be a weak division.
Anyway, other than eating a little too much BBQ, I'd say Pioli hasn't changed and he came in knowing how to get it done. He collects draft picks for draft day, rather than trading them away for veterans. Yes, he's traded away a couple picks, here and there, BUT I think he's stayed in the black, even counting the 2 vets he spent that 2nd-rounder on to get things started. That kick-off trade did a lot of things for the team, beyond just adding players. He killed 3 or 6 birds with that stone, so I'm OK with it.
The highly-praised 2010 draft was more about respectability and getting into the 6-10 to 10-6 pocket. As such, most short-term, instant gratification types really liked it. I can understand their wanting to do that, and I generally agree with the picks, but they've made only modest progress on OL.
Anyhoo, here it is, mid-December and KC leads the division. Can this "not-good-yet" team turkey out and bowl 3 strikes to finish? They just might. Just have to crush the Lambs, Tight-Ones and Faders. It's really great to still be in it with 3 games to go, and I'm grateful. The team is healthier than 'most any other team in the league, and they've all been working smart, from everything I've seen.