No. 3 Storyline For 2020: Will Patriots Repeat As Super Bowl Champions?

by

January 1, 2020

What a year 2019 was in New England sports! As we move into the New Year, join NESN.com in looking ahead to the top five storylines for 2020.

No team has won back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2003-04 New England Patriots. The odds of this year’s Patriots squad ending that drought decreased dramatically this past weekend.

Needing only to defeat a four-win Miami Dolphins team at home to lock down a first-round playoff bye, New England flopped, losing 27-24 in arguably the most disappointing regular-season defeat of the Bill Belichick era.

Now, instead of enjoying a much-needed weekend off and then hosting a divisional-round game at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots will play on wild-card weekend for the first time since 2009. Their opponent: a red-hot Tennessee Titans squad that’s won seven of its last 10 games and boasts dangerous playmakers at quarterback (the suddenly prolific Ryan Tannehill), running back (2019 rushing champ Derrick Henry) and wide receiver (stud rookie A.J. Brown).

A win over the Titans would set up a divisional-round clash against the Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, followed by a likely matchup with Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on the road in the AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs and Ravens each have beaten the Patriots once already this season.

That’s a murder’s row of potential postseason opponents, and it’s been months since New England looked like a Super Bowl front-runner.

After crushing a cavalcade of cupcakes during the first half of the season, the Patriots went 4-4 down the stretch, with just one of those wins (over the miserable Cincinnati Bengals) coming by more than seven points. Their offense hasn’t been able to score points consistently. One of their most important players (top receiver Julian Edelman) hasn’t been right physically since late September. And even their top-ranked defense has looked shaky of late, as clearly illustrated by Stephon Gilmore’s rare stinker against DeVante Parker on Sunday.

There’s also this: The last team to advance to the Super Bowl without the benefit of a bye was the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. The last Patriots team to do so? 1985. 

Can the Pats defy those odds? Absolutely. Many left them for dead at this point last season after they failed to win 12 games for the first time since 2009, and they responded by smoking the Los Angeles Chargers, beating the Chiefs at Arrowhead and silencing a high-powered Rams offense to win their sixth title.

If New England’s D returns to form, Tom Brady plays the way he did against the Buffalo Bills in Week 16, the run game continues to hum as it has of late and N’Keal Harry and/or Mohamed Sanu breaks out in the postseason, the Patriots can repeat as Super Bowl champions. That’s a lot of “ifs,” though.

Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Bruins center Sean Kuraly and teammates
Previous Article

No. 4 Storyline For 2020: Will Bruins Make Another Stanley Cup Run?

Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts
Next Article

No. 2 Storyline For 2020: What Does Future Hold For Red Sox’s Mookie Betts?

Picked For You