John Clayton did a mailbag and one of his readers asked why the Patriots are playing so badly in the playoffs even though they consistently play very well in the regular season. Well, Clayton’s answer is very complex and makes perfectly good sense. I can totally see where he’s coming from, but I think he’s wrong.
When guys go to the Patriots now, they assume that they’ll be in the playoffs. They assume that they can go to the Super Bowl. They assume that because Vegas has them heavily favored to win a Super Bowl, then they will win one, right? The whole team feels that way. It comes from Bill Belichick. You can say that he’s a great coach, but he’s also the most self-absorbed coach in history.
He thinks that he is god, and that, somehow, everything is perfect when everybody does things his way. Combine that with this silly perception that the Patriots are somehow entitled to go to the Super Bowl, and you have playoff disappointment. When they won the three Super Bowls in short order, it was still kind of a surprise. Now we just talk about them as being one of the best franchises in sports, but they don’t back it up because everyone there thinks they’re entitled to success.
Look at the way they act and you’ll see it. This is precisely why the Giants broke up their undefeated season (that and the greatest play in Super Bowl history.)
If the Patriots come back down to earth and start acting like they have a 1 in 32 chance of winning the Super Bowl, then they just might get back there. As long as they think it’s really just them against everybody else (the inferior stock) then it won’t work out for them at all in the playoffs.