The Patriots had a dominating win last week, thumping the Chargers at home to reach the AFC Championship. But are Belichick and Brady primed for a 9th NFL Super Bowl appearance? The Palmerbet Sports Team takes a look.
Dynasty Still Going Strong
The general fan consensus was that the Patriots stranglehold on the NFL was over. They’d snuck into the AFC’s #2 seed and would be dismantled by the visiting Chargers.
In reality, those takes couldn’t be further from the truth. The Pats delivered arguably their best playoff performance in years, racing out to a 35-7 halftime lead.
Whilst some late Charger touchdowns made the scoreline more respectable, this was a beatdown in every sense of the word. Tom Brady even referenced this lack of fan belief in his post-game interview, saying “Everyone thinks we suck”.
After Tom Brady told @tracywolfson in a post-game interview on CBS that "everybody thinks we suck and can't win any games", the underdog theme resonated throughout parts of the Patriots locker room as players looked ahead to the AFC Championship Game. https://t.co/nVpL8onc5w
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 13, 2019
New England currently find themselves 3rdfavourite to win the Super Bowl at $4.20.
Curious Home/Road Split
Gillette Stadium has been a fortress in recent seasons and 2018 was no exception. The Patriots won all 9 of their home games this season, 8 of which were by a touchdown or more.
If their road record was a little bit better this season, they’d be hosting the AFC Championship this week instead of visiting Kansas City. A 3-5 road record has many questioning whether New England has what it takes for another Super Bowl.
Each of the 5 teams the Patriots lost to on the road failed to make the playoffs this season. They’ll face a very tough test at Arrowhead Stadium this week, where the Chiefs have gone 8-1 this season.
Analysing the Competition
Standing in the Patriots way of yet another Super Bowl appearance are the upstart Kansas City Chiefs. Led by a spectacular season from Sophomore QB Patrick Mahomes, they clinched the #1 seed with a 12-4 record.
Quarterbacks in their first playoff game have largely struggled of late, but Mahomes led an excellent display against Indianapolis last week. The much-maligned Chiefs defence also stepped up, holding the Colts to just 13 points.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 14, 2019
New England and Kansas City faced off earlier this season, with the Pats winning a thriller 43-40. Whilst the Pats struggled to handle a dynamic offence, expectations of sub-zero temperatures for this one could play to their advantage.
That said, the bookies have made New England outsiders in this one. You can currently get them to win at $2.32 or +3 points at $1.90.
The NFC Teams Are No Slouches
Should the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl, they’d be coming up against either the Saints or the Rams. Both of these sides managed 13-3 records and were the 2 best teams in the NFL this regular season.
They enter Conference Championship weekend off the back of solid home victories against tough opponents last week. Both of these teams also have matchup advantages against this incarnation of the Patriots.
THE SAINTS GO MARCHING TO THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!
Drew Brees and Sean Payton are now 6-0 at home in the playoffs 😤 pic.twitter.com/5MyIRzAlyo
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 14, 2019
Particularly in the Atlanta dome, the versatile Saints attack would be tough to defend. Even without much playoff experience, the star-studded Rams would pose a significant challenge.
Whilst the Patriots don’t suck, it’s hard to see them winning the Super Bowl when they’re underdogs in the AFC Championship and likely also will be in the Super Bowl itself. Their poor road form concerns me, and I think the two dome games are perfectly set up for New Orleans to take home the title.