NFL Playoff Preview: New England Patriots
Martellus Bennett photo credit: Theo Smith
Feels good to be back. I was out of commission and basically dead to the world for the past two weeks because I've been moving into my new crib, but your boy is back up and running. I got all moved in just in time too, because we're getting into the nitty-gritty of the NFL season. Some of you may be thinking to yourselves, "Nigga, the nitty gritty? The season just ended". Well you're wrong. As a Patriots fan, this is literally the only time of the year that matters. We know we're going to win at least 12 games each year (we pulled out 14 this time around), we know we're going to be a 1 or 2 seed, and we know that more often than not we're going to at least make it to the AFC Championship. So this, not the other 16 games of the season, is really where things start to get interesting for New Englanders.
I must say, I'm pretty impressed with what the Patriots were able to pull off this season. I had them ending the season with a record of 12-4, and if Brady wasn't suspended to start the season we probably would have went 15-1. I started this year off by saying in my first piece that the Pats might have lost themselves a Super Bowl last year by taking the final game of the regular season against the Dolphins too lightly. If we won that game, we would have clinched home field throughout the playoffs. But we decided to rest Pro Bowlers, make a conservative game plan, and allow the Dolphins to come away with a win. That resulted in us having to play the AFC Championship up in Denver, where Brady basically never wins, and the rest is history. This year, with the #1 seed in the AFC once again on the line, Belichick and Brady made sure not to fuck it up this time.
Maybe I'm a bit overly confident, but I haven't felt better about our chances of reaching another Super Bowl in a long time. Despite their records, the two teams that scare me the most (the Broncos and the Ravens) didn't even make the playoffs. Yes, the Chiefs are solid, and yes the Steelers can put up points, but neither one of them can come to Foxboro and beat us in all 3 phases of the game. The AFC is just looking too weak right now to bet against us. I mean, our likely Divisional Round opponent right now could be the Houston Texans, who would need JJ Watt to not only return from injury but to play every position on the field for them to win. Everyone is saying we're going to play either the Steelers or the Chiefs in the AFC Championship, but I'm not even sure if Pittsburgh can make it past the Dolphins to be honest. I know that sounds crazy, but I say that because the Steelers are one Big Ben injury away from being wack and the combination of Suh and Cameron Wake almost results in death for opposing QBs on a weekly basis. The Chiefs were in this same exact position last year, a dangerous team getting hot at the right time, and we proceeded to beat the breaks off of them.
Basically what I'm trying to say is that if we do what Nerd tells us to do every day and Focus on Ourselves, nobody in the AFC is going to be able to knock us out. We have an angry/determined Brady having another MVP season, we have the #1 scoring defense in the league that is rounding into playoff form, and we just added Michael Floyd to an offense that already couldn't be stopped despite losing Gronk and Amendola. Brady relishes these opportunities. He knows there may not ever be an easier path to get to another Super Bowl while he's still playing, and he's going to make sure the opportunity doesn't pass him by especially with Home Field Advantage. Three teams in the NFC have me worried (I'm looking at you, Giants fans), but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. I'll check back in after this weekend once we know whom our first round opponent is.