Way too early NFL reactions: The end of the Patriots dynasty

This is an on-going series where we write HOT TAKES based on a very small sample size of an entire regular season, and try to explain how that signals a larger trend. If you missed the first one where we claimed Huddersfield Town were the best team in England, here you go.

Pats logo

Well, well, well.

Not so high and mighty anymore, are we Patriots fans?

After an off-season that saw pretty much everyone hand them another Super Bowl before a game was even played, and some even predicting the team to go 16-0, last night’s throttling at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs signaled the beginning of the end of the great Patriots dynasty.

They looked old. They looked slow. They looked out of sync on both offense and defense, giving up the most points and yards EVER in a Belichick-coached game. They got stuffed TWICE on 4th-and-inches plays, made Kareem Hunt look like the second coming of Marshall Faulk, and Alex Smith look like peak Brett Favre.

I mean, come on, if Alex Smith is out there making it rain on you, you’re in big trouble. This is a guy who I swear hadn’t thrown a ball more than 20-yards downfield in the last 10 seasons, and he tossed not one, but TWO bombs on the Patriots.

It was ugly, and there’s no recovering from it, especially when you consider that they left the game with even more injuries. Starting linebacker and the anchor of the defense Dont’a Hightower went down with a knee injury, gritty white guy Danny Amendola left with a concussion, leaving the team with only three healthy wide receivers at the moment.

Games like this don’t just happen to good teams, they happen to teams that have major flaws.  You saw it in the first half of the Super Bowl in February, they were dominated by faster, younger players, but found enough magic in the second half to win a fifth world championship. The fourth quarter last night was the opposite. After a field goal stretched their lead to six, check out what happened in the final frame:

4th.JPG

Domination. And it happened in a quick-strike offense, two touchdown drives that took a total of 1:17 and five plays. They went through the Patriots defense like Belichick goes through tough questions at a press conference. Pretending they weren’t even there.

And after West’s gallivant to the end zone to wrap it up, the fans headed for the exits in droves. It wasn’t just that they knew the game was over, they also couldn’t face the fact that their dynasty is over. Buried in the cloud of dust that the Kansas City running backs and receivers made as helpless Patriots defenders tried to tackle them.

There’s no shame in it ending either. Five Super Bowl titles, three no-doubt hall-of-fame inductions in the near-future, and a stretch of winning like the NFL has ever seen. But dynasties rarely die in graceful fashion. Look at the Detroit Red Wings, essentially the NHL’s version of the Patriots, they crumbled last year after 25-straight years in the playoffs.

From 2002 through 2016 the Patriots have missed the playoffs just twice, and even in those seasons they still had winning records, 15-straight years above .500, but I think it’s safe to say that streak is coming to an end as well.

16-0? I think instead we need to be talking about 0-16. You have a quarterback who is 40 and has five Super Bowls, what motivation is left for him? Especially when he has a super model wife waiting at home? Maybe it’s just me, but I’d find it a little hard to care about football with that waiting at the end of my career. Belichick has nothing left to prove in the NFL, he’s the greatest coach ever, so what does he care anymore if he has a lousy season, chalks it up to injuries, and walks off into the sunset, leaving the team in a pile of smoldering ashes in the rear-view mirror?

Patriots fans and NFL pundits will try to tell you it was just one game, and things like this motivate the Patriots to be better than ever, but don’t let them fool you. This was just the first of many hardships heading the Patriots way.

The dynasty is over, and for fans of the NFL who hate the Patriots, it’s not a moment too soon.

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