Top 5 Reasons the Patriots Will Win and Top 5 Reasons They’ll Lose
Is this the last time we will see Tom Brady in a New England Patriots uniform? Will the Tennessee Titans end the Brady/Belichick Dynasty? I think so, but you can never count out the Patriots, especially with Tom Brady under center. Here are five reasons why the Patriots will win, and five reasons why The Dynasty is over.
WHY THE PATRIOTS WILL WIN
Reason Number 1 – Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. After everything he’s done, all that he’s accomplished, can you really discount vintage Brady showing up for at least one more game? He’s been counted out before, folks said he was on a decline, that he was done, and he’s come back to win time and time again.
Reason Number 2 – Bill Belichick’s ability to tailor his defensive scheme specifically for each and every opponent. No one has been better at neutralizing an opponent’s strengths than Belichick, especially when it comes to halftime adjustments. 28-3 mean anything to anyone?
Reason Number 3 – Stephon Gilmore and the secondary. If Gilmore can take away AJ Brown, and the rest of the secondary can play the way they have when the defense was firing on all cylinders and allow the linebackers and defensive line to concentrate on confusing and frustrating Ryan Tannehill (who is 0-6 all-time in Foxborough) and limiting Derrick Henry, the Patriots will win the game. Remember, the magic number is 17 – that’s the line of demarcation for the defense this year; when the defense allows 17 or fewer points the Patriots are 12-0, 0-4 when allowing more than 17.
Reason Number 4 – Ryan Tannehill’s track record against the Patriots in Foxborough. He’s never won there, and even though he’s been having a sort of career resurgence and is 7-3 since taking over from Marcus Mariota. The weather is not going to be great, and Tannehill doesn’t play great in the weather that we’re expecting to see Saturday – cold, rainy and messy.
Reason Number 5 – The Mystique surrounding this stadium and franchise. So many teams are intimidated by the atmosphere and the cool, calm, collected natures of both the coach and the quarterback that even when they have the opportunity to win, the Patriots pull out the victory. The ball always seems to bounce their way, calls seem to go their way and weather is never an issue.
WHY THE PATRIOTS WILL LOSE
Reason Number 1 – Mike Vrabel. Vrabel was an integral part of three Super Bowl championships and was unceremoniously dumped as a “throw-in” when Matt Cassel was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Unlike a lot of the players the Patriots cut ties with over the years, Vrabel could still play and still had value. Vrabel has felt disrespected not only by the organization as a whole but by certain parts of it. After some joint practices and a defeat in Nashville, Tom Brady gifted Vrabel a little trophy for beating them in the regular season. When asked what he could discuss regarding “The Patriot Way” Vrabel responded, “Isn’t that the street where the movie theater is?” – Vrabel had been vocal about how the NFL owners were given so much money in the last collective bargaining agreement and the players, despite being the catalyst for the owners’ success not getting an equal share, but things like Patriot Place being built. He was traded shortly after.
Reason Number 2 – Derrick Henry. As well as the defense has played this year, they have struggled against good running backs. Nick Chubb and Frank Gore ran all over them. How will the NFL’s rushing champion fare against that run defense?
Reason Number 3 – The Revenge Factor. There are several former Patriots on the Titans roster, each of whom was cast off; Logan Ryan, Mike Vrabel, and even though he’s on injured reserve – Malcolm Butler. I’m sure that any of them would absolutely love to be a part of the team that ended The Dynasty, especially given the way their exits happened.
Reason Number 4 – Bill Belichick, or rather, Bill Belichick’s ego. Look, we all know that Belichick is a great coach, there’s even a saying in New England among Patriots fans affirming it; “In Bill We Trust” because no matter what he says or does, it’s always the right choice. Fans follow him blindly, never questioning anything he does, even when that costs his team a championship, like say, benching Malcolm Butler against the Eagles.
Reason Number 5 – Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. He is clearly not the same quarterback he was, even a few years ago. Maybe it’s due to a nagging injury or maybe it’s just due to the inevitability of losing a step with age, but something isn’t right with him. So many times they’ve had to resort to gadget plays and trickery to generate offense because Brady’s stats place him roughly in the same class as Mitch Trubisky, who will be watching the playoffs from home.
I’ve heard people say about Brady’s struggles “Well look at what he’s working with!” and I just want to remind you that this is the team the Patriots wanted. This is very much the team that won last year’s Super Bowl, despite Brady only throwing two touchdowns throughout the playoffs. People were talking them up at the beginning of the year about how they would win the Super Bowl and when Antonio Brown was added, there was talk from all corners about them going undefeated. They have the reigning Super Bowl MVP Julius Edelman, they traded a second-round pick for Mohamed Sanu Sr. (a player they’ve long desired), not to mention James White, Sony Michel, and a powerhouse defense. They dropped AB like a bad habit (smartly, I might add) and got rid of Josh Gordon (maybe because they knew he was about to get suspended again), but this is the team they wanted.
What’s changed since the beginning of the season? Folks were talking up this defense like it was the greatest thing the world had ever seen and would be on the front lines in there was some sort of extraterrestrial invasion. Then they face the Dolphins (who will be picking fifth overall in the upcoming draft because they were one of the worst teams in the league this year), and after scoring the go-ahead touchdown, allowed journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to drive 75 yards on 13 plays for the game-winning score. This was a game that the Patriots absolutely needed to have, and they didn’t show up. Winning this game would have meant that they secured another first-round bye as the #2 seed. Instead, they lost at home to a team that was not only bad at the beginning of the year, but a team that traded away their best players over the course of the season and proceeded to beat the defending Super Bowl Champion, playoff-bound Patriots with practice squad players. As a result, Fitzpatrick has the distinction of defeating the Patriots with every team in the AFC East.
To me, the most telling thing was Belichick deciding that taking a knee before halftime against the Dolphins last week with two timeouts and more than 90 seconds left on the clock was the best course of action instead of allowing Brady to drive down the field and at least get a field goal. That’s an indictment not only of his confidence in the offense but another example of his ego overruling common sense. Why should they worry about the lowly Dolphins? If they take that approach to the Titans, they’ll be run out of the building.
I would not be surprised to see the Patriots pull this game out. Not at all. Again, after everything we’ve seen from this team in the past two decades, they have the experience and coaching to take advantage of any mistakes or miscues the Titans make. However, I don’t think that the Patriots will do enough to really separate themselves from the Titans on the scoreboard. If the game is close and it comes down to the Patriots needing a clutch field goal, I don’t like their chances. I think they can make enough plays to keep pace with the much younger and faster offense of the Titans, but I don’t believe they will. I think the Titans’ running game is going to just be too much for the Patriots to handle, and that will open up play-action and Ryan Tannehill will play well enough to lead his team to victory. I really can’t believe that I’m picking Tannehill over Brady in a playoff game in Foxborough, but I have to go with my gut.
Titans 34 – Patriots 24