New England Patriots
New England Patriots

Patriots No Longer the Favourites

Things are pretty bad with the Super Bowl champs, as the New England Patriots have spent more time being under the microscope for cheating than they’ve had to celebrate their stunning victory against the Seattle Seahawks. Coach Bill Belichick is the most brilliant coach in the NFL but he is dealing with one of the biggest firestorms since Spygate. The focus this time around is shifted to his longtime star quarterback Tom Brady, and whether he will be available after a possible 4 game suspension from the NFL for Deflategate. Assuming everything goes as planned and he avoids suspension there is still the chance that he won’t be himself.

The Patriots are in the tough AFC east division where both the revamped Miami Dolphins and New York Jets know how to play them head to head. This isn’t unfamiliar territory for the Patriots with missing Brady, as they lost him completely in 2008 with a knee injury. The team put at the helm then unknown Matt Cassell who nearly led them to the playoffs. Although they barely missed the playoffs, a year later the Patriots capitalized on the return of Brady and sent Cassell to the Kansas City Chiefs in a trade. This was a proof of concept that the team was so well oiled that they could function just fine without Brady, whereas other teams would fall apart without their starting quarterback.

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A problem that may arise with this scenario is that Tom is almost a decade older, and the division is one year tougher. The signing of past his prime wide receiver Reggie Wayne doesn’t really instill any confidence in Patriots fans, who are used to piecing together scraps together from free agency in order to make a championship team. They are missing a really big opportunity to get another big name on offense that could make a difference in Brady’s absence, and more than likely they don’t care. The Patriots will moonwalk into the playoffs as always, but they’ve pretty much made themselves massive underdogs this year.

Imagine that, going from being the Super Bowl champs to being the underdog in your own division. There are a lot of reasons to doubt that they will go to the Promised Land, and there are even people talking about a complete implosion, to where they would have a possible losing record. It’s the NFL and anything is possible, but that’s beyond absurd. How well the season turns out will depend entirely on how well Bill Belichick can steer the ship while his star QB is away. And even when Brady comes back, there are absolutely no guarantees on his greatness.

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