By now, it’s just assumed the New England Patriots are going to be a championship contender every season. And that’s not changing until Bill Belichick and/or Tom Brady call it quits. But here’s a crazy bit of information that really highlights just how dominant this team has been in recent years.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss noted Tuesday that 19 veteran players who were either drafted by the Patriots or who signed with the team as undrafted rookies have never not been to the AFC Championship Game: “Punter Ryan Allen, center David Andrews, running back Brandon Bolden, defensive tackle Malcom Brown, cornerback Malcolm Butler, long snapper Joe Cardona, offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, defensive end Trey Flowers, defensive end Geneo Grissom, safety Duron Harmon, cornerback Jonathan Jones, offensive lineman Ted Karras, safety Brandon King, guard Shaq Mason, safety Jordan Richards, linebacker Elandon Roberts, left tackle Nate Solder, guard Joe Thuney and running back James White.”
That’s just insane.
Looking back at the team’s recent history, however, it makes perfect sense. The Patriots are about to play in their seventh straight AFC Championship Game. SEVEN! In the past six years, of course, New England has won two championships and lost another, losing the other three conference title games.
New England has made the playoffs nine seasons in a row, which is (by far) the best running streak in the NFL. During this stretch, the Patriots have averaged over 12 wins per season, which is also a staggering number.
It’s also worth noting that, during this stretch of dominance, the Patriots have dealt with plenty of drama and have been written off early in seasons on more than one occasion. Yet there are some out there who think the dynasty is crumbling and that Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft are somehow going to implode. Yeah, I’ll take a pass on that theory. They’ll make adjustments like they always do, and the dynasty will stay alive until Brady is done playing.
If New England wins Sunday against Jacksonville, then the Patriots will compete in their 10th Super Bowl and eighth in the Brady/Belichick era. That is just stunning.