The New England Patriots – especially quarterback Tom Brady – seemed to relish the team’s recent role as underdogs.
“I know everybody thinks we suck,” the 41-year-old Brady said after the Patriots dominated the Los Angeles Chargers to advance to Sunday’s AFC Championship game in Kansas City, another matchup the team wasn’t favored to win.
But they did win. As did the Los Angeles Rams, who were the underdog in the NFC despite remaining undefeated for the first eight weeks of the regular season.
So sets up Super Bowl LIII – which happens to be a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI, when a then-24-year-old Tom Brady won his first ring and started a dynasty.
On September 20, 2015, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were listed as underdogs going into their game against the Buffalo Bills.
The Patriots won that matchup 40-32.
That victory over Buffalo marks the last time Brady and his Patriots were declared as underdogs by Las Vegas, but heading into Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs, they are underdogs once again. That ends a streak of 67 starts, 174 weeks and 1,278 days as the betting favorite for Brady.
The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner has declared for the NFL draft.
That shouldn’t be a surprising statement, but Kyler Murray isn’t your average prospect. The former Oklahoma quarterback is a two-sport superstar who was drafted ninth overall by the Oakland A’s in last year’s MLB draft, but chose instead to follow his football dreams. He officially declared for the 2019 NFL draft on Monday.
So which quarterback-needy team will swoop in to draft the phenom?
The Pittsburgh Steelers still have a chance to hold on to Antonio Brown – at least, according to one oddsmaker.
Team president Art Rooney II has made it clear that the team has no intentions of releasing the wide receiver, though a trade (that Brown reportedly requested) is still on the table. Despite this, Bookmaker gives Pittsburgh +600 odds of keeping the superstar athlete on its roster.
The ongoing conflict between Brown and the Steelers resulted in his benching for the final game of the 2018 season, a must-win for Pittsburgh against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown had reportedly become “frustrated” and gotten into arguments with his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. Sources within the organization say that Roethlisberger would also take shots at Brown during team meetings.
Teams around the league are likely hoping that the rift between Brown and the Steelers has become too deep to repair. Franchises that struggled in 2018, including the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders, may be eyeing the wide receiver as a boost to their rosters. Even playoff teams like the Dallas Cowboys are seemingly in on the seven-time Pro Bowler.
Rumors are swirling about New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s possible retirement at the end of this season, but the NFL superstar put that chatter to rest on Sunday – at least, for the time being.
“I’m all in right now,” Gronkowski said in his postgame press conference after the Patriots’ 41-28 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. “I haven’t thought about anything like that.”
The tight end was only targeted once during Sunday’s AFC divisional round game, which resulted in a 25-yard reception. Gronkowski missed three games this season due to injury and has largely had a quiet season, with his best game coming in New England’s Week 14 loss to Miami, when he went 8-for-8 with 107 yards and a touchdown.
Death, taxes and the New England Patriots making it to the AFC Championship Game.
After the AFC and NFC divisional round games on Saturday and Sunday, only four teams remain in the NFL playoffs – and they’re exactly the teams you’d expect.
The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds from each conference reigned supreme over the weekend, setting up two matchups for the ages this upcoming weekend: the Patriots, last season’s runner-up, will travel to take on the Kansas City Chiefs, while the New Orleans Saints will host the Los Angeles Rams.
According to Vegas Insider, Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta will feature the top seeds from each conference. The Rams, once the league’s last-remaining undefeated team, are suddenly at the bottom of the pack looking up, and the Patriots are relishing their new role of “underdog.”
On Sunday, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn will head to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, to coach his second-ever NFL playoff game.
Bill Belichick will be showing up for his 40th.
That discrepancy, according to Elias, is the biggest in league history, and it wouldn’t be outlandish to think Lynn may be intimidated by the experience of his Patriots counterpart.
“He’s not going to be intimidated by Bill Belichick, and a lot of coaches are,” Ryan said. “But Anthony is not intimidated by the devil.”
Each game during this weekend’s divisional round is bound to be exciting, but some matchups are expected to be closer than others.
The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds from each NFL conference will return this weekend to host the winners of Saturday and Sunday’s wild card games. In the AFC, the No. 6 seed Indianapolis Colts will visit the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs, while the No. 5 seed Los Angeles Chargers will visit New England to face the Patriots.
Last season’s Super Bowl champion Eagles hold the No. 6 seed in the NFC and will play the Saints in New Orleans as the No. 4 seed Dallas Cowboys visit the No. 2 seed Los Angeles Rams.
With several offensive powerhouses returning from bye weeks, fans can expect a captivating two days of games. According to FiveThirtyEight, however, if you want to watch a close game, you should tune into Patriots vs. Chargers. New England is still largely favored to win, but Los Angeles appears to be the underdog with the best shot at an upset.
And then there were eight.
A chaotic spate of wild card games has whittled the NFL postseason field down to four exciting matchups for this weekend’s divisional round.
The Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots will return from their bye weeks to take on lower-seeded opponents who reigned supreme during wild card weekend.
Contrary to the last set of Super Bowl odds, the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles are no longer this postseason’s largest underdog – and even the top of the list saw a bit of a shake-up.
Take a bow, Mookie Betts – and then another, and another.
As if his World Series ring and American League Most Valuable Player trophy weren’t enough, a ranking by FiveThirtyEight has named the Boston Red Sox right fielder the best athlete of 2018 across the NBA, MLB and NFL.
Betts’ success is largely summed up by the 10.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR)that he posted, just outdueling Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout. The young superstar became only the fifth player since 2000 to crack 10 WAR in one season.
Also among the top players of the year were National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Houston Rockets guard James Harden – twice.