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It’s officially January in New England

The Patriots are back in the playoffs.

New York Jets v New England Patriots
Tom Brady has his sights set on his third championship in four years, and his sixth overall.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Well, there you have it. That’s the 2017 Patriots season.

Pats 26, Jets 6.

New England’s final record is 13-3. They are the No. 1 seed in the AFC once again. The last two times the Patriots have accomplished that, they advanced to the Super Bowl, and they won it both times. Now Tom Brady is just three wins away from his second “three titles in four years” stint. Are we sure he’s the greatest ever though? Let’s keep debating it anyway, just for fun.

A victory over the Jets at Gillette Stadium, in one of the coldest games ever played in Foxboro, was a satisfying way to end the season. After all, when is beating the Jets not fun? They’re the freaking Jets. Usually, often inexplicably, New York plays the Pats pretty close, giving them a quick scare. But not this time. The Patriots had the game wrapped up immediately after their opening drive, when Dion Lewis scurried into the end zone to put them up 7-0.

The Jets were never really in it after that. Young quarterback Bryce Petty struggled to get the offense going, other than a few big plays here and there. Chandler Catanzaro kicked the ball through the uprights a couple of times, but that was it. The game never appeared to be close, and the Patriots eventually pulled away on the scoreboard. We monitored the Steelers-Browns game from afar, just for our own amusement of watching the Browns possibly finish the season 0-16, but we knew it didn’t matter. Home field advantage was already ours.

New York Jets v New England Patriots
Robert Kraft: “You know, I think I kind of like this Brandin Cooks kid.”
Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

When the Patriots tacked on another touchdown – a shot from Brady that found Brandin Cooks in the end zone – to take a 14-3 lead, we were ready to start soaking it in. When a fired-up James Harrison – the newest member of the team and the all-time sacks leader in Steelers history – made his first tackle as a Patriot by nearly decapitating Robby Anderson, you could see how excited he was to be there. That was really cool to see.

When the fourth quarter started and the Patriots were leading 24-6, it was practically already January. With the exception of just two seasons, playoff football has been a January tradition in the Boston area since 2002 – the first January of this magical run of greatness. No Pats fan will ever forget that first memorable January; the incredible Snow Game against Oakland, which doubled as the last game ever played at the old Foxboro Stadium, followed by Drew Bledsoe helping the Patriots to an upset in Pittsburgh. And it carried over into February, when Tom Brady officially became a legend as the MVP of Super Bowl 36.

Many Januarys have come and gone since then, and now another one has arrived. It’s been 16 years since that first one. What will happen this time around? All I know is that the Patriots are three wins away from winning the Super Bowl … again. Just three wins away from winning their third title in four years … again.

Welcome to January in New England.