Yeah, I’ll eat these words. They’ll taste like shit, too. But I’m still writing them.
The New England Patriots are vulnerable entering the 2017 NFL playoffs. Despite being the top seed in the AFC and the favorites in Vegas, this isn’t their year, for once.
Quarterback Tom Brady has not played well of late: Brady completed just 61.3 percent of his passes for an 81.6 passer rating and a 6-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio in five December games, and he often didn’t look right. That’s concerning because — in case you haven’t heard — Brady is 40 years old.
Is fatigue catching up to him? It didn’t last year, but it might have helped that he was suspended for the first four games of the season. Two years ago, Brady also faded down the stretch (113.5 rating in the first half of the season, 89.7 in the second half) before crapping the bed in a playoff loss to the Denver Broncos.
They might be distracted: In case you’ve been living under a rock the last five days, here you go.
They’re missing two hugely important players: They didn’t have Rob Gronkowski last year, but that’s not the same as being without top receiver Julian Edelman and defensive leader Dont’a Hightower. I believe people are underestimating how much they could miss those guys in their next three games, considering the competition.
History is not on their side: The last 12 teams to win the Super Bowl failed to repeat, with only one of those 12 getting back to the Super Bowl the following season. Winning back-to-back championships is incredibly hard to do these days, and the Pats have a target on their backs.
So there you have it. Take it to Vegas.