Football fans express giddiness at the thought the New England Patriots may not be in the Super Bowl this season.
They love the Patriots’ chances of going down since they have to go through all three rounds to get to the Super Bowl and win it, including the next two rounds away from Gillette Stadium if the Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans Saturday night. The Patriots’ six titles have come without a first round-bye, and the last time a wild-card participant won the Super Bowl was eight years ago.
Who wouldn’t want to see them go away? They are boring to watch, and there’s nothing likeable about them. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson offer more intrigue than Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would in the Super Bowl. Everyone wants to see something new, and everyone yearns to see what Mahomes or Jackson can do in a big stage.
Be careful, though. The Patriots love to shine when everyone counts them out and everyone roots against them.
Make no mistake. They can be beaten, and it’s tough to see them win at Baltimore if they get that far in the AFC Championship Game, but would you bet your house mortgage on that happening? It wouldn’t be surprising if they go to the Super Bowl and win it just like it wouldn’t be surprising if they flame out either in the next round or in the title game.
Of all teams that are interesting this month, it’s the Patriots. They can go one way or another. That’s the beauty of all this. They will get fans to watch just to see them implode or get fans disappointed to see them winning.
The NFL loves this. In sports, villains make everything great. The Patriots wear the black hat so well knowing that they won six Super Bowl championships and made nine Super Bowl appearances. If they make their 10th Super Bowl appearance, it would be impressive considering this is the most vulnerable Patriots team in quite some time.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Brady give the Patriots a chance. We are talking about the greatest head coach of all time and the greatest quarterback of all time. It’s hard to count them out at anyplace and anytime. January always turns out to be their time of the year.
Belichick’s teams are always disciplined and well-coached. They never commit penalties that can cost them the game. They feast on other team’s mistakes. For whatever reason, the other team seems intimidated against his teams. The future Hall of Fame coach concots so many schemes that other teams can’t think of in outsmarting them whether it’s offense and defense.
Count on Belichick’s counterpart to outsmart himself in a playoff game. We saw this with Andy Reid’s clock mismanagement in last year’s AFC Championship Game. How about the Seattle Seahawks coaches running a play for Russell Wilson to throw with everything on the line in the last possession of the Super Bowl many years ago when it made more sense to have Marshawn Lynch run the ball being that the Seahawks were right by the end zone? Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn had no answers when the Patriots rallied from a 28-3 deficit to beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl few years ago.
Who can ever count Brady out? Yes, he struggled this season. Yes, he does not have the receivers to work with. So what. It’s Brady. Great quarterbacks find a way to figure it out. He has been a gamer forever. He’s still good at 42 years old. If there is one guy who can battle against father time, it’s him. Everyone counted him out when he was drafted in the NFL. He used that slight as an advantage, and there’s no question he will use his age as motivation. Think Brady as Michael Jordan. They both use something for motivation to be at their best.
The Patriots are 30-10 in the playoffs since 2001. They have that mystique and aura about themselves that can freak other teams out. It’s a good bet their AFC opponents are not taking them lightly, even if they think they can win.
The Ravens seem like a good bet to beat the Patriots. They are not intimidated to play them whether it’s at Gillette Stadium or on the road. It helps they won games against them in the playoffs. Being that they are the home team if they play the Patriots, their odds should be greater.
It’s no wonder the anti-Patriots booster club sense blood. The haters know this is their best chance of watching them go down.
The Patriots won’t be dull for sure. That’s the way NFL likes it. Everyone will be watching.
Count the Patriots out at your risk.