After a one-year hiatus, the New England Patriots are back in the playoffs following their blowout win over Jacksonville on Sunday.
It’ll be the franchise’s 18th playoff appearance under Bill Belichick and it might just go down as one of his most impressive. After all, the Pats started 2-5 with their only wins coming against the Jets and Texans, who have a combined 8-22 record entering the final week of the regular season.
New England managed to save their season thanks to a seven-game win streak that included victories over squads like the Chargers, Browns, Titans and Bills. Even during that surge, they never lost touch with their underdog mentality.
After their recent two-game skid, the doubters returned. “They clearly peaked too early.” “Mac Jones has hit the rookie wall.” “The defense is finally regressing.”
We all heard the takes. And Kyle Van Noy reminded the media of the team’s “Patriots vs Everybody” mantra after Sunday’s playoff clinch.
Kyle Van Noy is embracing the “Patriots vs Everybody” slogan.
The perfect quote to cap a perfect weekend for the Patriots. Speaking of perfect, how about Belichick’s take on getting back to the playoffs for the first time since 2019?
"“It was good. It’s what we needed to do, and hopefully, we can build on this and play well next week and going forward. Good solid team win all the way around. Excited to be back in the playoffs but big game coming up this week, take care of that. But feel like we made some progress today, but we’ve still got a long way to go here.”"
The only bad news stemming from Week 17 was that the Buffalo Bills, despite Josh Allen doing everything in his power to give the game away, defeated Atlanta and can now clinch the AFC East (and a home playoff game) this Sunday with a win over the Jets, who they beat 45-17 earlier in the year.
When you really think about it, though, New England might be better served playing on the road in the postseason. Entering Week 18, they’re 4-5 at Gillette Stadium and an impossible 6-1 on the road. Only the Cardinals (8-1) have fared better on the road this campaign than the Patriots.
To piggyback off that point, wouldn’t taking to the road in Round 1 fit right into the team’s “Pats vs Everybody” mentality? You bet. We all know Belichick has flourished as an underdog throughout his coaching career and you can almost guarantee they won’t be favored against whomever they’re slated to face.
Something to think about with the Wild Card Round just two weeks away.