How New England's Loss to Miami Actually Boosts Their Super Bowl Hopes
The Patriots thrive off the underdog status.
Tom Brady (n.) : underdog.
Julian Edelman (n.) : underdog.
These two men have proven themselves anchors of the New England Patriots, and their underdog status drives them to higher and higher levels. Still playing with a chip on their shoulders from being drafted late (6th and 7th rounds), Brady and Edelman get their identity from their underdog essence. But in the past few years, the two have gained accolades. Brady has won three Super Bowls in the past 5 years and Edelman was named Super Bowl LIII MVP. Have these honors lessened that fueling anger and resulted in inferior play? I won't go that far. But perhaps they have dimmed the two players' vision of their past. And this loss will give them 2020 vision. They're right back at the beginning of their careers where no one believes in them. Where they must prove themselves, investing everything they have, in order to succeed.
When the people doubt the Patriots, it's practically a ticket to a Super Bowl win. Remember 2014? New England played simply deplorably in the first three weeks, and critics asserted that the dynasty had reached his end, that Brady ought to go ahead and retire. But in Week 4 against Cincinnati, the Patriots came out and obliterated the Bengals. And, of course, brought home a Lombardi Trophy a few months later.
That's just one example of New England thriving off the underdog title. There are countless more, including last year, in which Tom Brady said, "I know everyone thinks we suck and can't win any games, but we'll see!" Is there anything scarier than that for opposing teams?
Nothing is promised.
Surely New England, of all teams, knows that nothing is promised in this league. Coach Belichick never lets the team forget that they have to earn everything, that nothing matters besides the present.
Let's not forget that these are human beings, though. They have egos. It has to be in some players' minds that, "we won the Super Bowl last year, so we'll do it again this year. And for goodness' sake, we're the Patriots." If that is in the locker room at all, Sunday's game destroyed it. A team that plays bad enough to lose to the Dolphins can't expect to play the same way and win the Super Bowl. The game was a reality check, exposing any underlying sentiments that since we are the Patriots, everything will work out.
New England will gain experience with an extra playoff game.
Sure, a bye would be wonderfully beneficial to the players' banged up bodies. But that's off the table. Instead, the team gets to work through a challenge. Critics are correct when they say that New England benefited from an easy schedule, but I think this actually hurt the team. They received very few opportunities to play legitimate contenders and test themselves. So now they have one more. Personally, I would have a lot more confidence in a team that knocked off three playoff teams going into the Super Bowl than just two. If New England can beat Tennessee, Kansas City, and Baltimore in three consecutive weeks, they will gain great experience and have a greater shot at conquering whatever flashy NFC team makes it to the big game.