1. They say what comes around goes around …
2. Two decades ago when I began my career at The Westfield News, the New England Patriots were the laughingstock of the National Football League. Twenty years and six titles later, the Pats have become one of the league’s most prestigious teams … that is, until Brady and Belichick parted ways … leading to the first playoff-less year since 2008. That was the same year Tom Brady tore his ACL in a season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
3. The irony of that historic moment in Patriots lore is that Brady defeated Kansas City and Chiefs wunderkind (or is that wonder kid?) quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the AFC Championship before winning their final Lombardi trophy in 2018.
4. In 2007, the Patriots became the first team in NFL history to complete an unbeaten 16-0 regular season before failing to become only the second team – – the Miami Dolphins were the first – – to post a perfect season when Eli Manning and the New York Giants posted a shocking Super Bowl upset.
5. This season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were technically perfect (although not fundamentally so) in posting an 11-0 start before losing consecutive games to the Washington Football Team, Buffalo Bills, and, gulp, Cincinnati Bengals.
6. The Steelers and Patriots are currently tied for the most Super Bowl titles (6).
7. The Bills, who beat the Steelers, unseated the reigning divisional champion Pats with a dominating win over the Denver Broncos on Saturday to secure their first AFC East title since 1995.
8. New England entered this season having won 11 straight AFC East titles and 16 of the last 17 divisional crowns. Only two other teams, the 2008 Miami Dolphins and the 2002 New York Jets, managed to wrestle that title away from the Patriots since the Pats won their first Super Bowl in 2001, beginning a decades-long run of dominance.
9. While the Patriots dynasty appears to be over for the foreseeable future, the Steelers will attempt to add to its lore alongside teams of yesteryear like the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. The Buffalo Bills made history for all the wrong reasons in the early 90s, losing Super Bowls in four consecutive years.
10. So with just two weeks remaining in the 2020 regular season and an uncertain postseason looming, will history side with the resurgent Bills, the not-so-perfect Steelers, the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs, or another unforeseen challenger in the AFC? My bet is on history.
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