The New England Patriots went 12-4 during the regular season and field the number one scoring defense in the NFL, and yet they are entering today’s wild card game against the Tennessee Titans with considerable questions. Will the offense finally find its rhythm, especially in the passing game? Will the defense bounce back from a disappointing Week 17 loss? Will the team as a whole be able to keep up with a potent opponent?
Given all these questions and how they relate to New England’s long-term outlook this postseason, it is no surprise to find out that people have no clue what to expect from the reigning world champions in the playoffs. SB Nation’s latest FanPulse survey asked Patriots fans how far they see the team advancing this year, and only one answer — ending up as Super Bowl losers — truly stands out among the rest:
- Wild Card round: 22.2%
- Divisional round: 36.7%
- AFC Championship: 18.9%
- Super Bowl loser: 1.1%
- Super Bowl winner: 21.1%
The majority of participants in the survey does not see the Patriots keep their AFC Championship streak — the team has made it at least to the conference finals in each of the last eight seasons — alive: 22.2% think they will already lose this week against the visiting Titans, while 36.7% see them advancing past wild card weekend only to fall on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round.
18.9% predict New England reaching but losing the AFC Championship Game, meanwhile, with 1.1% more seeing the fourth Super Bowl loss of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era in the cards. One in five Patriots fans, on the other hand, still has confidence in the team to not just make it back to the big game for a record-tying fourth year in a row but also to come away victoriously for the seventh time this century and the fourth in the last six years.
So what will it be? Predicting how the playoffs go is impossible, but especially difficult this year with the Patriots being a literal wild card: it would not be all that surprising to see their season come to an end sooner rather than later, but they could eventually also go on a run similar to last year’s.
If you too are interested in participating in our FanPulse survey, please click here!