The New England Patriots overwhelmed the New York Jets on Sunday in their final regular-season game of 2017, to stamp a ticket to the playoffs as the number one seed in the AFC.
Since some early-season defensive issues, the Patriots have steamrollered the limited competition the AFC has to offer this year, with the honorable exception of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
An appearance in Super Bowl 52 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on February 4 looks, if not inevitable, then more likely than not.
Making Conference Championship games, and Super Bowls, is just what the Patriots do under Bill Belichick, the football savant who has built a dynasty that will likely rumble on at least until Tom Brady decides to call it a day aged 65. Only those Steelers appear built, and equipped, with the kind of offensive tools to worry the Patriots in the playoffs.
Maybe you can be so good sometimes, though, that you can end up beating yourself. ‘Black Monday’ in the NFL left a whole host of teams without head coaches. The Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals all need someone to take over in 2018 and (hopefully) restore fortunes and hope.
And the Patriots happen to have two of the most esteemed coordinators in the NFL, in Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, who can interview for those jobs. “Belichick won't care, for sure, at least for a few weeks. And he will likely encourage guys like Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia to seek employment in spots that will benefit their careers (and not totally interfere with his plan for world domination)”, Will Brinson wrote for CBS on Tuesday. Brinson notes at the same time that interest in Patricia and McDaniels “isn’t ideal” as Belichick plots a route through to Super Bowl 52.
And there is, already, interest. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported on Tuesday morning that the Bears have requested permission to speak to McDaniels, the quarterback guru who had an unsuccessful stint as a head coach with the Denver Broncos between 2009 and 2010.
The Providence Journal reported on Monday that the Giants want to interview both McDaniels and Patricia. The Cardinals, who have talent on both sides of the ball following Bruce Arians’ retirement, are interested in Patricia. The Lions also want to interview the Patriots’ defensive coordinator.
Belichick will likely chart a successful course through the hullabaloo, because he always does. But the Patriots have had a settled coaching staff for several years now. That looks like it could be about to change. Sometimes you can be too good for your own good.
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