Could the New England Patriots have deliberately tampered with game balls during their victory over the Colts on Sunday? The NFL has confirmed that they are investigating these allegations, while Pats quarterback Tom Brady dismissed the accusations.

The NFL has very clear guidelines for how to inflate and maintain all balls used during games. Each team handles 12 balls, which are checked out by the league before each game. If a team did deflate a ball, it could make it easier to throw and catch. If caught doing so, a team might be fined and/or lose draft picks.

Reports have surfaced that at least one ball was removed from Sunday's game and tested, and possibly more than that. However, even if true that doesn't necessarily mean anything nefarious occurred. During cold weather, balls sometimes lose pressure on their own. Much of the current public debate seems centered around a "Patriots are cheaters" theme, stemming largely from the Spygate scandal several years ago (for which the Pats were punished by the league) and last week's tricky substitutions against the Ravens (which were completely legal).

On Boston radio station WEEI Monday morning, Tom Brady laughed off the story. "I think I've heard it all at this point," he said. "It's ridiculous. I don't even respond to stuff like this."

So far the NFL has not commented further on the ongoing investigation. Even if the Patriots are found to have knowingly altered their allotment of balls, their slot in the Super Bowl is not in jeopardy.

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