Since it’s the holiday season, I’m going to compare this ‘Patriots Train’ to a wildly popular Christmas movie The Polar Express.
In the movie, a young boy is growing skeptical of Santa Claus and boards the train to the happy destination otherwise known as the North Pole. All the kids are expecting to find Santa and they do, thanks to the Polar Express.
Here in New England in years past, many fans have grown skeptical of a Super Bowl win right before the playoffs start. Have no fear, hop on the back of one quarterback named Tom Brady and he’ll take us all to the promise land. However, following a game against Buffalo in which he posted the sixth worst passer rating of his career at 48.3 and throwing for just 126 yards on just 13 completions, can we really rely on him to bring the Patriots all the way back to the Super Bowl?
Here’s the thing about the Patriots: they may be old, they may be past their prime and hell, maybe they’ve exhausted their gameplan one too many times, but when it comes down to it in the postseason? They just find incredible, unorthodox ways to win football games. It’s that simple.
I know what you’re thinking: these guys can’t get out of their own way, Brady doesn’t want to stand in the pocket and get hit blah, blah, blah…
Did you ever stop and think that maybe there was a reason for that? Despite what he says, we all know the truth, Tom Brady is playing hurt. It’s as a clear as day but, the reason behind it is so he can save himself for the postseason. When the hits really count.
With the playoffs in mind, we know New England will be there, having won the AFC East for the tenth straight time, something that’s never been done in the history of the NFL. What we don’t know is where they’ll be playing. Here are the scenarios with how New England could end up with either the #1, #2 or #3 seeds:
Losses by both KC and LAC, NE defeats NYJ = #1 seed
NE defeats NYJ, HOU loss, KC or LAC win = #2 seed
NE loss, HOU win = #3 seed
Any of those is certainly possible, however, it’s most likely that the Patriots wind up with the #2 seed than anything else.
So now I’m going to hit you with more ‘what ifs’. Here’s what the BEST case scenario is for the Patriots if they do end up with a bye and the #2 seed.
Baltimore winds up with the #4 seed, they win at home on Wild Card weekend, go to Kansas City and win while New England takes care of business at home, then New England gets home field for the AFC title game.
Call me crazy, but it actually could happen.
See folks, this train has been through ups and downs, windy tracks, tall mountains treacherous conditions, and through it all has emerged with 5 Super Bowl championships and still chuggin’ away.
Should the ‘motor’ in this train (Brady and Belichick), lug this team to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII, it might just be the most impressive thing they’ve done since this whole journey got started back in 2001.
Listen, in my lifetime Tom Brady has been the only quarterback I’ve ever known (with the exception of 2008). He’s had some bad days, sure, as any human would. But, those bad days have been more than buried by the great ones and personally, I think he’s still got some great ones left.
The offensive line needs to give him time to throw, receivers need to get open, and the defense needs to do their job and get off the field in a timely fashion, and this thing will be crankin’ again.
The Patriots are better than what everyone thinks, regardless if you turn on news channels and sports talk shows or even look online and the experts tell you that the Patriots “just aren’t good anymore” (@ Trent Dilfer).
Look, it doesn’t take a genius to tell you that this Patriots team isn’t the same as the one last year or even the one before that but, every year is different, well, unless you win the division ten straight times then I guess it’s like clockwork, but that’s not the point.
The point is that these Patriots are a good football team, so what’s the actual problem here?
It’s the expectations facing them, and those expectations come from us, the fans. We’ve been so damn spoiled by Tom Brady and how perfect he’s been over the years that it’s just what we expect, naturally. So now, when he’s far more toward the end of his career than the beginning and he makes one mistake that’s out of character, we’re down his gullet about it. We’re too caught up in the negatives to actually enjoy the good moments.
Let the guy do his thing for cryin’ out loud. Worry about it when he struggles in the playoff games under the bright lights and can’t move the ball downfield, until he can’t make the critical 3rd down throw, until he throws the late game INT that costs you the season. Until those things happen, it’s business as usual.
As far as I’m concerned, Brady and Belichick are the conductors of this locomotive, and until it goes off the rails and crashes, I’m coming along for the ride.
-Brendan Howe is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @brendan__howe