The views of the Patriots’ Super Bowl LIV aspirations vary across the sports media landscape.
If you ask the likes of Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock, New England won’t even make it out of the divisional round, let alone reach the Super Bowl for the fourth consecutive season. Peter Schrager, however, is starting to like the Patriots’ chances of making a deep playoff run.
Schrager was a part of NFL Network’s coverage team for the Week 16 showdown between the Patriots and Bills. Outside of having an up-close-and-personal look at New England winning yet another division crown at Buffalo’s expense, Schrager had an opportunity to chop it up with both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick a few days before kickoff at Gillette Stadium.
And after Brady put things into perspective, Schrager apparently became sold on New England’s stock.
“Thursday afternoon — myself, Kurt Warner and Mike Tirico — had a chance to spend time with both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in a very casual setting,” Schrager recently said on “Good Morning Football. “We said to Tom Brady, ‘OK, you guys have lost to the Chiefs, the Texans and the Ravens. We know the playoffs are coming up, and you might not have the easiest path with your offense.’ Brady, to a man, looked at us and said, ‘Alright, if we win on Saturday, that means we get home field and a bye, which means we’ll have home field in the divisional round. Looking at history, I would take our chances at home field against whoever is coming our way. Then we got a one-game, elimination-round playoff game against somebody in their building.’
“One-game elimination round and he looked at us and was like, ‘I’ll take our chances. I’ll take our chances.’ I’m looking at him and I say back, ‘Like last year?’ He says, ‘Well, last year was a good one, but we’re a different team.’
“If you’ll remember this, Kansas City was rolling, guys, and the Patriots went into their building and they shut them out 14-0 in the first half because of the defensive game plan and because of the fact that in a one-game elimination, I don’t know if anyone can beat Belichick and Brady. It feels different this year, but Saturday night felt like a Patriots win of old where the Bills left everything out there, the Bills gave them everything they could, the Bills were awesome on Saturday night — it just wasn’t enough. Home in the divisional round and then a one-game playoff in the AFC Championship Game. I’m not sure anyone, Baltimore included — I’m not sure I would take anyone over Brady and Belichick right now.”
Schrager might be letting his cart get a little too ahead of his horse here. Sure, a hypothetical AFC title game between the Patriots and Ravens probably would be a toss-up given history and Lamar Jackson’s inexperience, but unlike seasons past, New England is in line for quite the battle in the divisional round this January.
If things play out as expected, the Patriots would welcome the Chiefs to Foxboro. Kansas City already has claimed victory at Gillette Stadium this season, and Patrick Mahomes and Co. seem to have only grown stronger since. The Chiefs’ defense is playing with the utmost confidence, and the offense is starting to get back to its old ways now that everyone is healthy.
It obviously would be tough to pick against Brady and Belichick at home in the postseason, but should they be forced to meet the Chiefs, it would be the toughest divisional-round matchup New England has been dealt in years.