FOXBOROUGH, mass. – Is the end near for the patriots?
Could it be Saturday at Gillette Stadium, where the patriots will host the titans at 8:15 p.m. in the AFC wildcard playoff game?
Would a loss for the Underdog Titans mean the end for the patriots as we know them?
The end not only for this season, which despite a 12: 4 record and the 11th AFC title in a row can best be described as inconsistent according to New England's gold star standards. But the end of an era of dominance that, with nine Super Bowls appearances and six Lombardi trophies, including last year, has been able to keep up with everyone else in sports history since 2001 – not just the NFL.
Cracks in the Patriots Foundation had already been discovered, which raised rivals' hope of a possible opening. But these cracks either turned out to be illusions or were quickly repaired and the dynasty continued.
The Patriots have hosted eight playoff games in the past five years and won all of them. During this time they won three Super Bowls.
"You're basically going into a viper cave," said Titan coach Mike Vrabel, a former Patriots linebacker.
However, this season felt different, starting with violent speculation about the future of quarterback Tom Brady, whose production – a completion rate of 60.8 (lowest since 2013) and a passers-by rating of 88.0 (lowest since 2006) – below its high value was standard as the greatest ever to play the position.
In addition, the 42-year-old Brady plays in the last year of his contract. It has been speculated whether his right (throwing) elbow is healthy. Oh, yes, and his home in New England was on the market, fueling speculation that after 19 brilliant, exquisite seasons this could be for him in New England.
Brady and coach Bill Belichick, of course, would have none of this big talk or speculation as they prepared to play this game, which is a dangerous game with the titans. Tennessee is a hot team (seven wins in their last 10 games) coached by one of Belichick's most popular former players.
"I'm not much for nostalgia. I'm just pretty focused on what I have to do," Brady told reporters this week. “This week has felt like every other week for the past 20 years. So, [I’m] I'm just trying to focus on what I have to do, and this is a team that presents you with many challenges. They will force us to really be together. If we are not and if we have not been this year, it has not looked very good. "
In fact, it was sometimes a struggle for Brady and the Patriots this season. Although they scored an average of 26.3 points per game, production was inconsistent. In fact, it was their defense that enabled a league low of 14.1 points per game and saved the season of the patriots.
The Titans, with Ryan Tannehill in the quarterback, have scored 28 or more points in six of their last seven games. On the way there, Tannehill, who took over as starter Marcus Mariota in week 6, was one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league's last 10 games. He threw 22 touchdowns on six interceptions and ended 70.3 percent of his passes with a 117.5 pass rating.
Who would have thought Brady would be the second best quarterback in this playoff game?
The Patriots want to get into this game as an upset team after Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins sabotaged their first round when they returned to New England at Gillette Stadium last Sunday.
In the remarkable series of Patriots since 2001, they have never won a title in a post-season when they had to play a wildcard game.
"We have a chance for a revenge tour and what could be better than starting with Tennessee, which we lost last year," said Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy about the 34:10 success of Tennessee in the 2018 season.
"We can't take the opportunity we have for granted," Matthew Slater, the star of the Patriot specialty team, told reporters. "We simply assume that these opportunities will arise in the future, but there is no guarantee." Let's try to live in the now and take the opportunity. "