As February comes around, the first Sunday of the month always marks Super Bowl Sunday. This year’s matchup pits the high flying Los Angeles Rams against the New England Patriots. Over the past 17 years, no team has made more appearances than the New England Patriots. I want to talk about their under appreciated dominance.
The dominance for the Patriots began in the 2001-2002 season when starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe got injured in a week 2 game against their bitter rivals, the New York Jets. This set the stage for 6th round pick Tom Brady to take the starting job. Tom Brady went on to win 11 of the next 14 games that season to lead the Patriots to 11-5 on the year. A Super Bowl 36 title was the icing on the cake on a dream for New England. Bill Belichick and “Tom Terrific” were the matches that ignited the dominance of a franchise that would continue to roll on to eight more super bowl appearances and five super bowl crowns.
To put the patriots dominance into perspective, let’s start with their dominance over the AFC East division. As of October, The New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills are a combined 22-81 against Brady. 80% of these divisional games result in a Patriots win. The only team that has given any trouble to Brady has been the Dolphins with a 10-7 record when they play the Patriots at home. When it comes to division titles, the Patriots have been a virtual lock to win the division every year since 2001. They have won the AFC East division 15 of the last 17 years including them winning the last ten division crowns. As for the two years in which they didn’t win, the Patriots finished with an identical record to the Jets, who won in 2002 at 9-7, and the Dolphins, who won in 2008 at 11-5. Overall their dominance of a single division has been matched by none.
Secondly, the Patriots have dominated the whole AFC conference. The Patriots are 11-4 in AFC championship games and have a current 8 straight appearance streak. Their ability to get the number 1 seed in the AFC on a consistent basis has allowed them to go 7-1 in those home AFC championship games. Many different AFC teams have challenged the Patriots in the playoffs but only 4 teams have been able to defeat Brady. Those teams are the Colts, Jets, Ravens, and Broncos. Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco are the only quarterbacks with multiple wins over Brady in the playoffs. As for all their other challengers, nobody else has been able to defeat the Patriots. The Jaguars, Steelers and most recently the Chiefs, who lost in overtime to the Patriots in the most recent AFC title game 37-31, have been close on occasion, but were never able to persevere.
Some may question if Tom Brady and the Patriots do well against the NFC. Well, the answer to the question is yes. Tom Brady has a .500 record against every team from the NFC. He even has split even with his “Achilles heal,” the New York Giants with a 3-3 record. He has only 1 loss to an NFC team other than the Giants in Super Bowls. Even though NFC teams play him sparingly, they tend to not fair very well.
Overall, the Patriots dominance is present in many different degrees. Whether it’s over the AFC East, the rest of the AFC, or even the whole NFL. The Patriots have been the overlords of the NFL. Even with alleged cheating attempts, the Pats continue to do one thing. W. I. N. Win. They have continued to win and have shown no signs of stopping.
This Sunday, the Patriots will take on the Los Angeles Rams. Tom Brady’s NFL dominance kicked off with a Rams victory. Will a 6th super bowl victory be in store for Bill Belichick and the most dominant dynasty in NFL history? Or will the Rams be able to dethrone the Patriots in the same way that the Patriots dethroned them back in 2002? Super Bowl Sunday holds all the answers…