Patriots vs. the AFC field: NFL evaluators make their pick
You can bet your last dollar on the New England Patriots reaching the Super Bowl or you can take the rest of the AFC field. Which option would you choose?
ESPN’s Football Power Index put the Patriots’ Super Bowl chances at 55 percent heading into Sunday. That improved to 58 percent following the Patriots’ 16-3 victory at Denver. Rufus Peabody, the professional bettor and ESPN predictive analytics expert from Massey-Peabody Analytics, had it 51-49 in the Patriots’ favor.
What say people in the league? I polled two NFL pro personnel directors, one head coach, one defensive assistant coach and an analytics specialist to find out.
“To me, you always want to bet the field,” one of the insiders said, “but if the Patriots have home-field advantage, do I see them losing?”
These insiders couldn’t agree on which AFC team posed the greatest threat to New England. Here’s how they each answered the question at hand:
Head coach’s view
The head coach said he thought the Patriots held significant coaching advantages over every team in the AFC. He pointed to New England’s willingness and ability to change its approach from game to game and season to season. And he thought Tom Brady was better than any quarterback the Patriots would face on their way to the Super Bowl.
So, what should the Patriots fear this postseason?
“Tom Brady breaking his leg falling out of the shower,” this coach said. “That’s it. The teams that are good matchups for New England, like Seattle, are in the other conference. New England, their defense is playing better than what people realize. Their special teams hurt them against Baltimore [in Week 14], and then their offense is always going to be fine, because Tom is there.”
By: Mike SandoESPN Senior Writer