So I've been trying to not get my hopes up with the Patriots this year for a variety of reasons. Mainly because deep down I don't think their defense is good enough to win a Super Bowl. Losing Hightower, Branch and even Shea McClellin hurt a ton, plus their pass rush (apart from last week where this happened) has been atrocious.
From my experience with both sports and girls I've realized it's a lottttt easier to deal with heartbreak when you lower your expectations. Don't assume anything. There's a reason I convinced myself the Titans had a legit chance last week, because had I gone in thinking there's no way on earth the Patriots lose, like most people did and then somehow they did, it would crush me. I've done this before many times and after the 2012 AFC Championship Game I finally learned my lesson. So I don't do it anymore. Don't assume you're going to win, or be happy, cause you probably won't be. Sure it's kind of a loser mentality, and as I type this and think about where I am in life maybe it's not the best approach, but it does make heartache a lot easier to handle!
However the cards have fallen quite favorably for the Pats this year. It's pretty remarkable when you sit down and think about it. Aaron Rodgers, out for the year. Essentially the whole Legion of Boom goes down, Seattle Seahawks implode and don't even make the playoffs. Zeke Elliott gets suspended and Cowboys have a down year. David Johnson (remember him?) goes down week one and the Cardinals underachieve. Andy Dalton has a miracle in week 17 knocking out the Patriot killing Ravens and Joe Flacco which gives the final playoff spot to the Buffalo Bills who were about as big of a threat to win the Super Bowl as Lil Pump is to win a Grammy for Album of the Year. Carson Wentz torn his ACL, Mike Tomlin continues to be a fucking idiot. The Saints decide to not play defense against a Hail Mary. You could even make the argument that DeShaun Watson tearing his ACL gave the Patriots an easier road as he lit them up in week 3.
Instead what lies ahead for New England in potential QB opponents is Blake Bortles (God love him) who at times looks like he's playing football for the first time and two guys who went into 2017 as back-ups.
With the conference championship games a few days away the road to Lombardi #6 seems easier than ever for the Patriots. The Tom Brady needs to outscore Blake Bortles then either Case Keenum or Nick Foles to win a Super Bowl. The road doesn't get much easier than that from a opposing quarterback standpoint. Given the state of the Patriots defense, it makes the task a whole lot easier. This may be one of the worst combinations of starting QBs in a conference championship weekend in NFL history.
(Delhomme, Hasselbeck, Plummer and Big Ben was the 2005 season but the point still remains)
Sure it's not exactly that simple, as it's a team game, anything can happen, blah, blah, blah.
Talk about a great draw.
Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, then a QB who went into 2017 as a back-up. It's not exactly Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees.
Now part of me hates saying games are QB vs QB because in many ways that's not the case. It's a team game, it's QB vs defense, Which is why I always say Eli Manning didn't beat Tom Brady in two Super Bowls....their defensive line did. The three other teams still alive all have good to great defenses, at least statistically (Jags did give up 42 points last week). Vikings, Jags, and Eagles are 1st, 2nd and 4th respectively in points allowed this season. Despite that I can't help but look down the road at why lies ahead for the Pats.
Which poses the question: How big of a disappointment would it be for this Patriots team to not win the Super Bowl given the road ahead?
Now I know nobody outside of New England is going to cry over things not going the Patriots way and I totally understand that, buuuuuuttttt there is no denying despite the massive amount of success the Patriots have had during this run, there has also been some massive disappointments. Even with the countless Super Bowls and making the AFC Championship Game in what feels like every year since the turn of the millennium this team has had it's fair share of letdowns and heart breaking moments. A week after winning Super Bowl XXXIX Tedy Bruschi had a stroke, they blew a 21-3 lead in the 2006 AFC Championship game, 18-1, Brady tearing his ACL week one 2008, being 14-2 and clear cut SB favorites and losing a home playoff game to the fucking Jets, losing another Super Bowl to the Giants, a team that only had 9 wins in the regular season, losing a star tight end because he wants to be a serial killer. I'm just saying there's been dark days too. It's easier to deal with now as time has passed and the universe has sorted of evened things out with the way they've won their last two Super Bowls. But the Patriots are no strangers to laying an egg in big games. Plus let's not forget that whole decade long Super Bowl drought thing.
Although the "drama" from ESPN hit piece from a few weeks ago has kind of died down take into account the changes coming next year. The Pats are going to be losing both coordinators this off season, and Tom Brady will be a year older next season. I'm just saying this run has to end at some point. While I don't believe the Patriots are all of a sudden going to be a 6 win team in 2018, you have to look at the opportunity that lies ahead. Failing to capitalize here (considering absolute best case scenario the Tom Brady window is open a few more years) would be devastating. You're never going to get an easy road to a Super Bowl. I don't think that's a stretch to say. Given the flaws of this defense I'd say they're rather lucky to have gotten this draw. I don't know if they'd be able to keep an Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees in check, but luckily for Patriots fans we only have to worry about Blake Bortles and Nick Foles/Case Keenum. All things considered, I do think not finishing the job considering who else is still alive would be a pretty big failure. I mean it's Tom Brady vs Bortles and Foles/Keenum. Not winning there would be like if Gordon Ramsey lost Top Chef to an easy bake oven.