As we sort out the mess that was the Patriots’ season-opening 42-27, Patriots fans will look for a silver lining.
If that silver lining for even one person is “at least the 19-0 talk is dead,” cut that person out of your life forever. They’re no fun.
Nineteen and zero wasn’t just a potential record, it was the extent to which we presumed the 2017 Patriots were better than everyone else. They still may be leaps and bounds better than the rest of the NFL, but they weren’t for one game.
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Yet we set that mark. The aforementioned anti-fun folks cautioned against all the variables that go into a given season: injuries, officials, luck. The rest of us understood all of those variables, but also understood that if things went mostly right for this roster -- particularly the offense -- that they could win every game. No other team can say that.
Then there were the people afraid of chasing perfection. Maybe the perfect record got to the Pats as the 2007 season wore on, culminating in a suboptimal game plan in the Super Bowl. Then again, the best team doesn’t always win anyway. The 2016 Pats came a penalty away from being a best team that lost.
I wanted 19-0. Not because I’m some sort of In "Bill We Trust" nutbar, but because it’s something we haven’t seen before. And it’s not like 19-0 was a topic over the summer because we were bored; this was something that was conceivable.
The Patriots, as they should be, are still favored to win the Super Bowl. They’re better than every other team. They could lose any game, but they should win every one. And hey, there’s never been a team that’s run the table through a 16-game regular season and playoffs, so imagine the Patriots becoming the first en route to tying the Steelers for most Super Bowl titles ever?
This sounds outrageously New England sports observer of me, but I can’t help but feel that the season has lost a little of its flavor with 19-0 no longer in play. Sure, they’ll still probably run away with the top seed in the AFC and will have a terrific chance at a second straight title, but think back to 2007. The drama that came in the three near upsets was outrageous.
A season after having the year of three starting quarterbacks, it would have taken something crazy for the Patriots to remain unique beyond their usual dominance. That would have been it.
Every Patriots championship season can be identified by just a word or a name. Brady. Harrison. Branch. Butler. Comeback. Will future Pats teams be better than this one? Maybe not; as Tom Brady ages, it’s plenty realistic to assume this is as good as it will get. “Perfect” would have fit nicely.