The New England Patriots have been described in many positive ways over the course of Tom Brady’s 19-year career. Some words that come to mind: dynasty, winners, class and near perfection.
Heading into the AFC Championship Game this weekend in Kansas City, the word being discussed around this Patriots team is a bizarre one — the underdog. The Chiefs are three-point favorites this week with the game at home in Arrowhead Stadium.
Sure, the 2019 version of the Patriots isn’t considered world beaters by any means. But underdogs? This is their eighth-straight AFC title game appearance.
That hasn’t stopped the two-time defending conference champs from playing up their new label of being “dogs.” On Wednesday, receiver Julian Edelman tweeted out that he’s selling T-shirts of the Pats’ logo with the words “Bet Against Us.”
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) January 16, 2019
It may seem crazy to most fans whose teams can’t even make the playoffs, but perhaps the Pats’ mindset of “us against the world” is just what this team needs to get over the hurdle one more time.
Part of what prompted all of this was the fact that some analysts were high on the LA Chargers’ chances of taking down Belichick and company Sunday in the divisional round.
Brady felt so strongly about being disrespected that he couldn’t resist aiming the Patriots’ doubters immediately after the game ended.
While being asked about their next matchup by CBS’ Tracy Wolfson, Brady said, “Everyone thinks we suck, and you know, can’t win any games. … So, we’ll see, it will be fun.”
Even though New England opened as 4.5-point favorites against LA, the public didn’t have much faith either. The Chargers were earning 62 percent of and 71 percent of the money wagered through the middle of last week, according to SportsInsights.
Brady then proceeded to throw for 343 yards in a very convincing victory.
It might sound absurd, but the AFC title game will be the first time a Brady-led Patriots team is an underdog in 68 games. That’s more than four full regular seasons.
That’s unheard of.
The last time the Patriots were underdogs with the greatest quarterback of all time was in 2015 against Buffalo. The Patriots won by eight.
What might be even more impressive is the fact that Sunday will be just the second time they’re underdogs in the postseason since 2007. New England has won the AFC five times during this span.
The first instance was against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game in 2014. The Pats were five-point underdogs, and the results followed suit. They lost 26-16.
This time around
Whether or not the Patriots are actually underdogs probably comes down to how you view things.
Should they be getting points on the road, in a hostile environment, against the probable league MVP? The answer is yes. However, in the grand scheme of the league, the Patriots are the furthest team from being an underdog.
With the greatest quarterback/coach duo ever, the Patriots are still very much a dynasty and no one will be shocked if they pull out a win to head to another Super Bowl.