Patriots

How the reported expanded NFL playoff proposal impacts the Patriots

How the reported expanded NFL playoff proposal impacts the Patriots

NFL owners are pushing for a big change that would be part of a new collective bargaining agreement with the players. The league reportedly will propose expanding the postseason to add a seventh playoff team in each conference.

As ESPN's Adam Schefter detailed, the league would now have six games on Wild Card weekend under the new proposal, three in each conference, and only the No. 1 seed in each conference will get a playoff bye.

Also in the proposal is a 17-game regular season with a preseason shortened to three games. The changes would be implemented for the 2020 season if the new CBA is ratified by the owners and NFL Players Association.

If adopted, this is certainly a massive change and one that could have a big impact on the New England Patriots. 

The Patriots have mastered the art of qualifying for a bye in their two-decade-long dynasty. In fact, this past postseason was the first time New England didn't have a first-round bye since the 2009-10 postseason. The Patriots finished as the No. 3 seed and promptly lost to the Tennessee Titans at home, marking their earliest playoff exit since the '10 postseason.

Thus, the elimination of one of the byes could have a significant impact on the Patriots. Since Bill Belichick took over as coach before the 2000 season, the Patriots have made it to the Super Bowl nine times. In each of those seasons, they've had a first-round bye.

In the Belichick Era, the Patriots have been the AFC's No. 2 seed on six occasions. They advanced to the Super Bowl and won three times in those six instances, and it's fair to wonder if they would've had a similar chance to advance had they needed to play another game, even if it was against a seventh-seeded team.

In the past seven Super Bowls overall, no team has made it to the big game without a first-round bye. The 2013 Ravens were the last team to play Wild Card weekend and make the Super Bowl.

So, needless to say, the No. 1 seed in each conference will now have a major advantage, and the Patriots are going to have to fight harder to earn it. They're certainly capable of earning the No. 1 seed. They were the No. 1 as recently as the 2017 and 2018 playoffs, when they beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52.

The road to the Super Bowl will become a little more difficult without that No. 1 seed if the new format is approved. Only once in the Patriots history have they reached the Super Bowl as a Wild Card team and that was 35 years ago in the 1985 season. The No. 1 seed and home-field advantage will carry even more importance, but they'll have to outduel some powerful up-and-coming AFC teams if they want to earn it in the near future.

For a team with the NFL's toughest projected strength of schedule in 2020, that will be no easy task.

Pete Carroll gives candid comments on pain of Super Bowl XLIX loss to Patriots

Pete Carroll gives candid comments on pain of Super Bowl XLIX loss to Patriots

It's difficult to find a more heartbreaking way to lose a championship than what happened to the Seattle Seahawks at the end of Super Bowl XLIX.

The Lombardi Trophy seemed firmly in their grasp as running back Marshawn Lynch drove the ball to the 1-yard line with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks were in complete control, and it looked like their opponent, the New England Patriots, could do nothing to stop the inevitable. But instead of giving the ball to Lynch to finish the job, Seattle ran a pass play and quarterback Russell Wilson was intercepted by Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. Butler's game-saving play secured New England's fourth championship and crushed Seattle's hopes of back-to-back titles.

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The loss was absolutely excruciating for Carroll, and in a recent interview with NFL Media's Mike Silver, he talked about the difficulties Seattle faced in recovering from that defeat.

"It was such an emotional way to lose for everybody, and we had to rebuild everybody's brain," Carroll said, per Silver. "We just bludgeoned our way through that. I tried to just make sure that I was unwavering. So, that was the challenge: To allow for the grieving and all of that, and then see what the issues were, and then put it back together. Yeah, that was hard. It was a hard challenge. It was really hard on some players. And some of us will never get over it."

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It's hard to blame any Seahawks player, coach or employee who will never get over the pain of Super Bowl XLIX. The Atlanta Falcons players who blew a 25-point lead and lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI two years later probably will feel the same way the rest of their lives.

But unlike the Falcons, who are still searching for their first championship, Carroll and the Seahawks have the joyous memories of Super Bowl XLVIII and a shiny Lombardi Trophy to help forget about their painful loss to the Patriots. 

There are few challenges in sports quite like rebounding from a horrific loss in a championship setting. Carroll has done about as well as the Seahawks could've hoped over the last five years, while Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has overcome plenty of adversity (and two Super Bowl losses) himself over the last decade.

So it was hardly a surprise when it was announced Monday that Belichick and Carroll were the two head coaches named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2010s.

Patriots honor Phillip Dorsett's career in New England with tribute video

Patriots honor Phillip Dorsett's career in New England with tribute video

Former Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett's stay in New England lasted just a few years, but he managed to make an impact on a Super Bowl champion.

The Patriots acquired Dorsett from the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 as part of a trade that sent third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the AFC South club. Dorsett played three seasons with the Patriots before departing last month in NFL free agency to join the Seattle Seahawks.

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The Patriots tweeted a short tribute video for Dorsett on Monday. Check it out in the post below:

Dorsett was part of the 2018 Patriots team that won Super Bowl LIII over the Los Angeles Rams, and he played a part in helping New England reach that goal. He tallied four receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown in New England's win over the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC Divisional Round. Dorsett also caught a touchdown pass the following week when the Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime of the AFC Championship Game.

Dorsett posted 29 receptions for 397 yards and five touchdowns for the Patriots in 2019. He'll catch passes next season from another Super Bowl champion quarterback in Seahawks star Russell Wilson

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