There has been a lot to process since the Patriots disappointing 17-10 loss at the hands of their rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon. We have been inundated with the classic lines we hear every time the Patriots dynasty shows a chink in its armor. “Their run is over, Brady is washed up” or “Belichick isn’t the coach he once was, it’s time to move on”
While eventually one day those quotes will absolutely ring true, I find it hard to believe that this is that time. Is Brady getting older? Yes. But those that say he is washed up must have more of a short-term memory than my goldfish who I forget to feed for weeks on end. Just a mere 10 days ago we saw him play maybe the best game of this season in Miami, throwing for 358 yards and 3 TD. To think that in less than a week the TB12 method finally stopped working and Brady turned back into a mere mortal is insane.
If you actually watched the game Sunday, besides the lollipop interception he threw late in the 4th quarter Brady didn’t even play that bad of a game. There was at least 3 huge drops made by his normally sure handed WR’s that played a huge part in the lack of this team to continue drives and put points up. If his WR’s make those catches we are most certainly talking about this game in a different light.
Another thing to consider, if the Miracle in Miami doesn’t happen a week ago than we aren’t overreacting to this loss in quite the same fashion. The Patriots had controlled this rivalry for the better part of the past 2 decades, the fact they finally dropped a game to the only other team that can stand in their shadow in terms of AFC dominance isn’t a huge deal. It happens.
Sure this team has its flaws, I’m not sitting here trying to say that they don’t. What I want to point out is as much as everyone is freaking out that the Patriots will not have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, that there may be no better year for this to have happened.
I can’t remember a year in recent memory where the NFL playoffs are going to be more wide open than this year, especially in the AFC.
Sure the Chargers and the Chiefs seem to be hands down the best two teams in the conference, but only one of those teams will the Patriots have to travel to play at home against. And if it ends up being the Chargers I’m certainly not afraid of traveling to the 28,000 seat Stub Hub Center that will no doubt be filled with more Patriots fans than the almost non-existent LA Charger faithful.
Unless the unthinkable happens and the Patriots somehow lose one or both of their final two games, the Patriots will at least play one home playoff game. If the Texans slip up they could still get the 2 seed and a bye. As many concerns as everyone might have about this Patriots team, I’d love for you to find me a Vegas book-maker that wouldn’t have the Patriots favored in a home playoff game no matter who the opponent is. It simply won’t happen.
Let’s say the Patriots do have to go into scary Arrowhead field to face the Chiefs. Yes it’s not ideal, but you can’t tell me that these Patriots simply cannot find a way to win that game. In back to back weeks we have seen the Lamar Jackson led Ravens take the Chiefs to overtime at home and then last week the Chargers beat them in that raucous environment. They aren’t unbeatable at home. They still basically have a rookie QB in Patrick Mahomes who for as great as he has been, is not immune to pressure and can still be liable to make a mistake. They still have Andy Reid who has never proved he can properly manage a close game down the stretch.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it seems crazy for so many people to be giving this Patriots team absolutely no shot. They need to play better sure, but the NFL playoffs are a different animal from the regular season. The stakes get higher, the mistakes are amplified, the pressure is immense. You can’t sit here and tell me that the coach and QB with the most playoff experience in the history of the game should be counted out 2 weeks before the playoffs even start.
Just for comparison, imagine if Aaron Rodgers and his Packers were going to sneak into the NFC playoffs with a 9-7 or 8-8 record. All you would hear is how we better watch out for the Packers to make a run, and how we can never count Aaron Rodgers out. Rodgers is 9-7 all time in the playoffs, Brady is 27-10.
So don’t fret New England fans. Yeah you might not be the favorite going into the playoffs like every other season in recent memory, but until I see it happen I wouldn’t let anyone tell me to count out the Patriots. You have to take the crown off the Kings head, he won’t just give it to you.