The New England Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions, and are going into next season as the favorite to win the Lombardi once again sitting at +350 odds to win Super Bowl 2018. With Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and a healthy Rob Gronkowski still at the top of their game, the question that has been swirling around the internet isn’t if the Patriots can repeat as champs as they did in 2004 and 2005, but whether they can finish the season undefeated.
Before you start laughing, chew on this for a second. Last year, Brady missed the first four games of the season, but the Patriots went 3-1, playing quarterbacks that had virtually no experience. When Brady returned from his suspension, the Patriots went 11-1, with their lone loss coming against a desperate Seattle Seahawks team fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Going 19-0 is obviously not an easy task, as the remaining members of the 2007 team that went 18-1 can attest to. It requires a level of focus a lot of teams don’t have, some luck, a favorable schedule, and key players have to be healthy.
Focus isn’t a problem for the Patriots because they have a coach that demands the best from his players and won’t hesitate to get rid of a player that might be a distraction to the team.
Luck is something you can’t predict, especially in a sport like football where a wrong bounce or an inch could be the difference between winning and losing. However, a disciplined team makes fewer mistakes, giving their opponents few opportunities to capitalize.
Injuries are the toughest because they are impossible to predict. But as long as any of their key players don’t suffer a season ending injury, the Patriots should be fine.
Last season, the Patriots played three teams that made the playoffs, going 2-1 against them. This year, they are scheduled to play four playoff teams from last season, including the Atlanta Falcons, who would love nothing more than to get some payback for their Super Bowl loss.
So, back to the question at hand, can the Patriots go undefeated this season? Personally, I think they have a better chance than a lot of teams that have come close in the past. However, it hasn’t been done since 1972 for a reason, and I think the 2007 Pats team that came close had a better roster than this team.
The Patriots will come close once again, but I see them losing at least one game during the regular season which does not take away from their chances of winning Super Bowl 2018 again.