New England Patriots should repeat as Super Bowl champions
If the ESPN report on the New England Patriots’ power struggle is remotely true, the end of the most successful run in NFL history is near.
But until then, the Patriots return to the playoffs with no weakness in sight and no reason to doubt their chances to repeat as Super Bowl champions. With a 40-year-old quarterback, the Patriots are second in the NFL in passing yards per game (276.1) and total points per game (28.6) and fifth in points allowed per game (18.5). Tom Brady has thrown for 4577 yards and 30 touchdowns and could potentially play in a Super Bowl in which the opposing head coach (LA Rams’ Sean McVay) is younger than him.
The Patriots were their usual selves this season. They lost a few games in the beginning of the season then spent the last months of the season as the hottest team in the league. The Patriots have won at least 12 games in every season since drafting Buffalo native and University of Arizona legend Rob Gronkowski.
“It’s unbelievable. If you think about it, I got here eight years ago, so maybe that’s the reason,” Gronkowski said to reporters with a chuckle.
The fun loving tight end missed the Patriots’ Super Bowl run last season but returned with a bang this season by leading the team with 1,084 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. His dominating presence on the field has made up for the season long absence of wide receiver Julian Edelman.
The defense didn’t seem like much for much of the season but going into the playoffs, they are a sleeper to destroy opposing offenses. It shouldn’t be hard against much of the AFC field with the exception of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who is most likely going to be their opponent in the championship game.
Linebacker James Harrison is set up to be the playoff x-factor. Harrison signed a two-year deal with the Steelers but played 40 snaps over five games all season before asking for his release to sign with the Patriots. Against the New York Jets in the last game of the regular season, he made five tackles and two sacks on the way to another win.
“Certainly it wasn’t all perfect,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia told reporters after the game. “But from a guy who came in and really tried to, from the first minute he was in the door, learn and understand what we were doing on defense and how he could be implemented into that. The study and the questions were great going through and walking through and putting a lot of his own individual time in this week to get caught up to speed.”
Once that game presents itself, the playoffs will truly begin for the Patriots.
Photo by Getty images
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