Expectations could not be higher for the New England Patriots in 2017. But are they too high with talk of another potential unbeaten regular season?
On Tuesday, I talked about whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers were really the top threat for the New England Patriots in 2017. That was a bit of a teaser for why the Oakland Raiders should be considered a bigger threat in the AFC. However, the only legit threat to the Patriots this year as the defending Super Bowl champions is themselves.
One could argue that New England would have won a sixth Super Bowl a decade ago had the team not put together an unbeaten regular season. The pressure of going 19-0 combined with the self-belief that the Pats were indeed “perfect” ultimately caught up to them. Were the New York Giants a better team? Definitely not. But the Giants found a way to upset New England not once, but twice, in the NFL’s biggest game within five years.
Head coach Bill Belichick is trying to get his team to focus on the upcoming season and forget about last year’s dramatic Super Bowl win. That is easier said than done of course. Especially with the media continuing to build up the 2017 Patriots as potentially the best of all-time.
For example, ESPN’s Dan Graziano last week ranked New England’s offseason as the greatest of any defending Super Bowl champion. The 2003 Patriots were ranked second on Graziano’s list and went on to become the league’s last repeat champs.
That article came a day after ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss reported on Belichick’s desire to put last year’s accomplishments in the past. According to Reiss, this is what Belichick had to say:
"“It was a great night, but, really, we need to move on to 2017. We’ve had enough parades, enough celebrations and enough everything. This ’17 team hasn’t done anything yet– none of us have. We really need to focus on what we’re doing this year. There have been a lot of great moments in the past, which is great, but that isn’t going to help us this year.”"
Belichick knows reading what reporters think about his team will not win them another Vince Lombardi Trophy. He has guarded against that throughout his tenure in New England and will continue to do so. He has also learned from his past experiences, both good and bad. Expecting the Patriots to go 16-0 again is silly. They need to lose before the playoffs to stay motivated. And they need to avoid playing the Giants again in the Super Bowl.