They can’t wait for it to happen. It’s what everybody outside of New England wants to see.
The impending demise of the Patriots. Only a matter of time, they try to tell me. For this success can’t possibly last forever.
They’re right about that “forever” part. One day, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be bronzed in Canton, and we here in New England will once again know what it feels like to not be in the AFC Championship and have no shot at a Lombardi Trophy.
But they continue to be wrong about their timetable for the apocalypse.
Last weekend was the Patriots’ sixth straight AFC title game. With a 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium, they’re headed for a third Super Bowl appearance in six years. But this one is by far the most impressive. And according to those who go to bed at night praying for Robert Kraft’s carriage to turn into a pumpkin, it’s the most improbable.
Back in July, you had a national sports personality proclaim that Brady was “just about done.” While he was serving his four-game Deflategate suspension, you had multiple NFL columnists tweeting about how the Patriots should trade Brady because of Jimmy Garoppolo’s early success.
The madness didn’t stop there. When linebacker Jamie Collins was traded to the Cleveland Browns for a compensatory draft pick during the Week 9 bye, some analysts — national and local — were convinced this was the move that would do them in.
Then, two weeks later, they made defensive end Jabaal Sheard a healthy scratch and held him back in Boston while the team traveled to play the 49ers in San Francisco.
A week after that, Rob Gronkowski injured his back in Week 12 against the New York Jets and was placed on season-ending injured reserve following back surgery.
It was the perfect storm for those who despise the New England Patriots.
But just as I told you they would, Belichick and Brady weathered the storm, and finished the regular season with the best record in the NFL at 14-2. From Brady’s suspension, to trading one of their best defensive players, to Gronkowski’s injury, it wasn’t a perfect season for the Patriots, by any means. And yet, still, the road to the Super Bowl went through Foxboro.
That must drive people nuts. Because what they have to accept is that, as long as Belichick and Brady are both running the ship, a Titanic-like catastrophe of which they dream about will never happen, no matter how much they try to tell us it will.
Because, if their tales of imminent doom were ever going to ring true, it would have been this season.
I mean, how many teams would be able to survive a four-game suspension for their star quarterback to begin the year, trading one of their best defensive players in the middle of the season, and losing one of the league’s most dominant receivers in the final weeks? In fact, never mind surviving. How many teams would be able to still go 14-2 and advance to the Super Bowl like it’s nothing?
The answer is: only one, the Patriots. That’s not even an opinion, really. It’s a fact.
No matter how bad things seem to be going in Foxboro, Belichick and Brady always find a way to rise above. And yet, the NFL’s talking heads will continue to tell us that their next problem will be the one that ends this magical run for good.
Well, I’ve got some bad news for them.
The Patriots are already the favorite to win next year’s Super Bowl. And as long as Belichick and Brady are still in New England, that’s not going to change.