Maybe, just maybe the New England Patriots were set up by the NFL.

The Patriots have been in the middle of controversy in the last week as the NFL continues its investigation as to the team’s use of under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game.

FOX Sports reporter Jay Glazer reported last week that the NFL was tipped off about the Patriots’ footballs prior to the AFC Championship Game. The league’s plan heading into the game was to inspect the balls at halftime.

ESPN’s Ed Werder suggested the same thing Sunday, wondering why the league appeared to be trying to catch the Patriots deflating footballs rather than telling them not to do it in the first place.

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Yahoo! Sports tried to do a little more digging on those claims Sunday. Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel reached out to the league to ask what exactly prompted them to check the footballs at halftime of the AFC Championship Game. The league declined Wetzel’s request for a comment or clarification, leaving him with more questions than answers.

“What we do know is that hanging out there, without response from the league,” Wetzel wrote, “are multiple reports that the halftime testing was part of a strange pseudo set-up and not something that just occurred; that a league so obsessed with this particular part of maintaining competitive integrity was willing to compromise the competitive integrity of a league championship game.”

The Super Bowl and the NFL season’s end is less than a week away, but it’s clear this story is far from over.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images