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2019 AFC Championship Game: The Patriots are ‘underdogs’ and nobody can handle it

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Everybody seems to be enraged that the Patriots dared to embrace their underdog status, and it’s a little crazy.

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After the Patriots ramrodded the Chargers 41-28 in last week’s AFC divisional playoff at Gillette Stadium, Tom Brady played the “nobody believes in us” card. He talked briefly about how, apparently, everybody “thinks we suck” and “thinks we can’t win any games.”

And ever since that moment, it’s all anybody can talk about.

As if non-Patriot fans needed any more reasons to root against Brady and the Pats, he gave them another one. Now, all of a sudden, everybody is upset because the Patriots are building themselves up as underdogs, trying to rally around the premise that people think Brady is washed up and the New England football dynasty is on its dying breath.

People are saying it’s pathetic that the Patriots would ever behave in such a way. Apparently, when you’ve won five Super Bowls and gone to eight consecutive AFC Championship Games, you don’t get to embrace underdog status, even when it’s staring you right in the face.

Complain all you want, but this is the closest the Patriots have come to being a legitimate underdog story — or Cinderella story, if you prefer — in a long time.

Brady is 41 years old, and though he hasn’t been bad by any means this season, he’s not quite as electric as he was during his MVP campaign a year ago. His two most reliable weapons are Julian Edelman and a rookie running back. His formerly dominant tight end is still on the team, but has been a shell of his former self all year long. And lastly, people have frequently argued that this is the worst Patriots defense Bill Belichick has ever fielded.

On top of all of that, the Pats have to venture to Arrowhead Stadium in potentially subzero conditions and face a Kansas City Chiefs team that has owned the AFC all season. They have the league’s most dynamic quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, the NFL’s newly-crowned best tight end in Travis Kelce, a top three or four receiver in Tyreek Hill, and a bevy of other weapons as well. The Chiefs also have a defense that, despite ranking 24th in the NFL during the regular season, came out against the Colts last week and played like they should be ranked No. 1.

On paper, the Patriots shouldn’t have a chance in this game. And yet, people are upset that they are trying to motivate themselves by embracing the underdog role for the first time in years? Come on, everybody. Stop sipping on that “hater-ade,” or whatever it’s called.

The Patriots are underdogs, and that’s just how it is. If you can’t handle it… well… I don’t know how to help you.