Patriots DB Devin McCourty admitted that New England isn’t the team to beat in the AFC East anymore unless they prove otherwise.
The New England Patriots are in a weird place right now. To put their struggles so far this season into perspective, they are looking to snap their first three-game losing streak in 18 years and are fresh off their worst home defeat of the Bill Belichick era.
We can’t even begin to describe how important Sunday’s showdown with Buffalo is, as it could easily make or break the Patriots’ season. A loss would send them to 2-5 and give them an extremely low chance at making the playoffs. It could potentially even prompt Belichick to enforce a fire sale ahead of next Tuesday’s trade deadline.
A win, meanwhile, would propel New England right back into the race for the division crown as well as the middle of the AFC playoff picture. However, oddsmakers are convinced that Belichick’s side will have to play a near-perfect game to topple the current AFC East leaders, a team that’s opened up as 3.5-point favorites.
Per Ryan Hannable of WEEI, this marks the first time since the 2015 campaign that the Patriots are underdogs in a division matchup, so it wasn’t entirely surprising that versatile veteran defensive back Devin McCourty admitted during his latest video conference that the 11-time defending AFC East champs are no longer the team to beat in the division.
"“They’re first in the division. We’re 2-4,” McCourty told reporters. “So I definitely won’t call us the team to beat this year. I know me personally, I talk about it every year, it doesn’t matter what’s happened here in the past. I’ve always said that when you talk about the Super Bowls won in the early 2000s, that doesn’t have anything to do with us. Super Bowls won after 2010, that has nothing to do with us.”“I will say right now we’d be crazy to think coming into the game that we’re the team to beat, like they’re No. 1. This is going to be a huge challenge for us on the road, you know, the top team, we’ve got to really bring our A-game coming off three straight losses. So I think for us, our backs are against the wall, we’ve got to go out there and play well.”"
These quotes are precisely why McCourty is viewed so highly both on the field and within the Patriots’ locker room. The two-time Pro Bowler is as real as they come and knows that nothing good will come out of dwelling on past championships. After all, most of the players from those teams have either retired or moved on to different teams.
The Patriots’ domination of Buffalo over the last two decades includes a seven-game winning streak dating back to 2016, but McCourty is evidently aware of the fact that quarterback Josh Allen and Co. have zero reason to fear them. Could that narrative change if New England pulled off a win on the road in Week 8? Perhaps, but we’ve learned over the last month or so that it’s foolish to go into games with high expectations for this flawed team.