FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's smile might've told you all you needed to know. Words followed, but it was the 41-year-old quarterback's grinning reaction to a question about his team's underdog status that informed anyone watching exactly how he felt.
"Doesn't change much for us," he said after a lengthy pause. "But it just kinda shows you kinda what people think our chances are. That's about it. No more added comment to that."
Nothing more to add on Thursday at the podium, at least.
Brady, of course, jumpstarted the underdog conversation following his team's Divisional Round win over the Chargers. It was then he told CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson that, "Everybody thinks we suck . . . "
Since then, Las Vegas only stoked the flames, making the Patriots three-point underdogs as they travel to No. 1 seed Kansas City as the No. 2. It's the first time the Patriots will be postseason underdogs since the 2013 AFC Championship Game when they traveled to face the top-seeded Broncos. It's the first time the Patriots have been underdogs since Jimmy Garoppolo opened the 2016 season in Arizona as the team's starting quarterback.
If players aren't saying much about it in front of microphones this week, volumes have been spoken via their social media accounts.
Only the willingly dimwitted could say the Patriots "suck" after they blew out the Chargers last weekend, but the team has been questioned in all corners of the country -- and legitimately so -- over the course of the 2018 season.
They've been bad on the road. They've been bad against the run, especially out of lighter personnel groupings. They've had long stretches where they haven't been consistently explosive in the passing game. They've had long stretches where they've been relatively ineffective in kick coverage.
Does that mean they "suck?" Nope. But players won't necessarily differentiate. They'll use anything they can to motivate themselves, as is their right.
Just don't expect them to come right out and say it motivates them.
"If you're not motivated this week, you got a major problem," Brady said when asked if New England's "dog" status provided him or his teammates any sort of emotional lift.
"This is the week where you shouldn't have to put any extra in. This is what it's all about. Sign me up any chance you get to play in the AFC Championship Game. I don't care where, when, time, cold, weather, rain, blood. Doesn't matter."
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