The stage is set! On Sunday, January 13, the forecast calls for three to five inches of snow with a high of 30 degrees in Foxboro, Massachusetts, as the Los Angeles Chargers will take on the defending AFC Champions, the New England Patriots. If Tom Brady and Bill Belichick can’t will their way past the Divisional Round, not only will they lose their ability to seek a third straight appearance to the Super Bowl, but so much more.
Each season, the Patriots have a bullseye on their back as many teams will try to stop their reining for many years. Fans and critics have been accustomed to watching the team have an exceptional record and to defeat anyone who stands in their way. The Patriots finished their regular season with 11 wins and five losses which may seem like a good record for any other team. However, for New England, Belichick has set such a high standard for the football fans in the world that the current record may not seem that impressive.
The critics out there have echoed to everyone that the Patriots are not the same team as previous years. It’s more common that Belichick outplays his opponents during the season and gets his team to the AFC Championship game with ease. The last time the team couldn’t advance to the championship round was back in 2010 when the Patriots were expected to make it due to their previous 14 win season. This year is different with the Patriots’ suffering the most losses in a season since 2009 at 6 losses along with Belichick having been dealt with several tough losses this season. The “Miami Miracle” where the Miami Dolphins had a game-winning 70-yard touchdown and against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field were the most painful losses this season. With the shakiness and the ups and downs the team has battled with, what does Sunday mean to the organization?
When Brady steps on that field on Sunday, he needs to show the world that he still has enough in the tank to excel for next season. He doesn’t have to play a perfect game, but a near good one. If he nor the offense can’t apply points on the board, headlines will read everywhere, “Brady’s Time Is Up!”
If the Patriots come out victorious, the win means absolutely nothing. Everyone is expecting them to make the AFC Championship and advance. However, if the team loses, then questions will begin to surround if Tom Brady doesn’t have any more “greatness” running through his veins and if Bill Belichick’s ways of winning are now over. No one will give the team the benefit of the doubt; the Chargers are a more well-rounded team overall, but none of that comes into play when people will expect New England to dominate at home. If the New England Patriots fall to the Los Angeles, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will be questioned.