LegacyMaker Sports Super Bowl LIII Team Preview: AFC Champion New England Patriots

#2, 10, 19, 5, the 3rd, (#2), 1928-2018: A Statman Preview of the Super Bowl for the New England Patriots

By: Russ ”Statman” Taliaferro

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The final game of the season & the Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl. Where have we heard that before? The only difference is they are the LA Rams this time, but yet something about that still sounds the same. Hope you’ve got all your snacks & your parties are set because it’s time for some really expensive commercials. Before we get to those commercials though, let’s take a look at what we saw, what we might see & maybe what the history books will say about the AFC Champs after this Sunday. This is your New England Patriots Super Bowl preview brought to you by Statman.

#2, 10, 19| The New England Patriots finished the regular season as the number 2 seed in the AFC, winning their 10th straight AFC East title, continuing their stranglehold on the division in Belichick & Brady’s 19th year together. The year started out pretty hectic for them, to say the least. Rumors of a Brady vs. Belichick vs. Kraft feud was all over the headlines at the turn of 2018. They lost one coordinator to a head coaching job. Then it was both coordinators, & then back down to just one, as McDaniels rejected the Colts offer the same day it was announced. They finally get to the preseason after losing a few key free agents, including a Danny Amendola, Malcolm Butler, & Nate Solder. Then in the second preseason game, Solder’s replacement & their first overall draft pick Isaiah Wynn, suffered a torn Achilles & is gone for the season. “At least we get Julian Edelman back from a torn ACL!!” Nope. You must’ve forgotten he’s suspended the first 4 games because of PED’s. Needless to say, things weren’t looking as bright in Foxborough as they normally do. Still, they held their own in the 4 games without Edelman going 2-2, winning the homes games against Houston & Miami. They even added former pro bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon while Edelman was gone, which didn’t work out so well in the end. Nevertheless, the Patriots are still the Patriots & went on a 5 game win streak (6 games overall including the Miami win) after the return of Edelman, which included the first showdown of the season with Patrick Mahomes & the Chiefs in October. Everything seemed to be alright heading into a week 10 matchup against the Titans, with their bye the week after. Their defense was holding up ok until then, bending a bit, but not enough to cost them any games over the offense. The Titans didn’t care about that. Former players Dion Lewis & Malcolm Butler were happy to welcome to Nashville & shut down the Patriot offense for a lopsided 34-10 victory. It was their first loss to Tennessee in 16 years. A loss like that is never a good thing going into a bye week is never a good thing. Having to think about that for 2 weeks would bother most teams, but Brady & the Pats aren’t most teams. They came back after the bye & downed division rival Jets 27-13 in New Jersey with their other first round pick, Sony Michel, having his best game of the regular season on the ground, rushing for 133 yds & a TD on 21 attempts. Other than a 2 game hiccup against Miami & Pittsburgh later in the year, New England held their ground, clinching the division in week 16. Thanks to a tough race atop the AFC West & a week one win over the Texans, New England also got the number 2 seed. The playoffs were finally here. The divisional round against the Chargers wasn’t a lock as a win on paper. The 12-4 team was lead by the always tough Philip Rivers & future HOF’er Antonio Gates. The Pats started strong though, scoring a TD on their first four drives & 35 points total in the first half. Despite 3 TDs from Rivers & a second-half surge from LA, New England was able to hold on to move onto KC in the next round. The rematch with KC was expected to be just as big, if not bigger than the regular season meeting. Once again, the Patriots set the tone, scoring on their opening drive after an 8-plus minute drive. Even though Brady threw an interception on the next drive, the defense was able to hold KC to 0 points in the first half, while the offense was able to get one more score to make it 14-0 at the half. The Chiefs didn’t take long to right the ship, as it only took them 4 plays to answer back at the opening of the second half. New England would extend their lead with a field goal a few drives later, but wouldn’t score a TD until halfway through the 4th. By that time, they were playing from behind & had just retaken the lead with that score. The game was a firefight at that point with both teams scoring TD’s on 4 straight drives to bring the score to 31-28 NE towards the end of the 4th. KC would kick a field to tie it & Brady kneeled to let the game go into overtime. The Pats would win the coin toss & Brady would lead them on a 13-play 75-yd drive in the only possession of the extra quarter, to hand the ball to Rex Burkhead for the game-winning 2yd score. That brings us to Sunday!!

Will Patriots RB Sony Michel be the X-Factor in Super Bowl 53?
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5, the 3rd, (#2)| Even dating back to the Boston Patriots days, the Patriots only went to the AFL championship once, losing to the Chargers in 1963. The New England Patriots have won 5 Super Bowls already in the Belichick-Brady era. Let me say that again. THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS HAVE WON 5 SUPER BOWLS IN THE BELICHICK-BRADY ERA. Those 5 Lombardi Trophies are the only ones in franchise history.  It’s safe to say that these years of the dynasty are the best ever in the team’s history. The pair holds just about every record there could be for a Coach-QB combo. Their 207 regular season wins are the most, by far, of any Coach-QB tandem. The next closest is Don Shula & Dan Marino with 116 wins. Both of them are HoF’ers without having won a ring together, so what does that say about what Belichick & Brady have done? Their 16 Division Titles, 9 Conference Titles, & 5 Super Bowl Titles are the most by any duo in the Modern Era (1970-Present). The only pair to outdo them on Conference Titles & League Championships another HoF duo, Paul Brown & Otto Graham. They won 10 Conference Titles & 7 NFL Championships for the Browns in the late 40’s/early ’50s. Furthermore, no team has a winning record against the Patriots during the Belichick-Brady era, but about that 3rd. The New England Patriots play in the Super Bowl this Sunday on February 3rd, against the Rams. That whole statement should resonate with a lot of New England fans. It was February 3rd, 2002 in Super Bowl 36 that the dynasty started. Same coach, same QB, same team, same opponent. In fact, Tom Brady is the only remaining active player from that game. Current Rams coach Sean McVay was junior QB & Defensive Back at Marist High School in Brookhaven, Georgia. Rams QB Jared Goff was 7 years old. On that date February 2002, in their second year together, Belichick & Brady took on the “Greatest Show on Turf” in the St Louis Rams. Up against 4, possibly 5 in a few months, future HoF’ers, the second year combo were able to hold off the Rams this time, despite being dominated on the stat line. Although they’ve only had a repeat Super Bowl opponent once before during this dynasty, the difference between this rematch is that they won the first meeting. One thing that remains the same for Patriots in this rematch is that (#2) seed, so maybe its fate??

The Super Bowl has become a national holiday. Everybody puts in the off day request MONTHS in advance if you’re unlucky enough to work somewhere that’s open on Sundays. The rest are hoping to get off enough early enough on that sacred day to be able to setup & watch the game somewhere. The commercials themselves have become a phenomenon with the price of an ad going up every year. This year, CBS is charging a record 5.25 million for a 30 second spot. It evens out at 175k per second. That’s a tad bit higher than the 5.2 million asking price of NBC from last year. Compare that even further to the Super Bowl 36 meeting of these teams. A 30 second commercial has more than doubled in cost from back then, as it was 2.2 million in 2002. Either way, whichever team you’re pulling for if you do have a dog in this fight, I hope we all have a great day watching America’s true pastime 😉 in what has essentially become our second Thanksgiving. Be safe everybody & enjoy yourselves – Statman

Oh, I almost forgot. 1928-2018| You know Statman is always going to leave you with a random stat/record that I found, & this one (maybe two) has nothing to do with Belichick or Brady for a change. We all know the Patriots All-Pro Safety Devin McCourty, but did you know that not only does he have a twin brother who is also in the NFL, but on the same team as well? I did because I love Rutgers football, but I digress. Devin & his identical twin Jason will be the first set of NFL twins to play in the Super Bowl together. As a matter of fact, they are only the 2nd of 3 different sets of twins to play on the same team in the NFL at the same time (Earl & Myrl Goodwin, Pottsville Maroons 1928; Shaquill & Shaquem Griffin, Seattle Seahawks 2018).