This is the ideal start to the NFL postseason for Patriot fans.
Fans who don’t have a dog in the fight claim all they’re looking for is a close contest. Doesn’t matter what sport it is. They want to be entertained.
Those who do have a stake in the contest care most about their team winning. But if their team wins a tight contest it’s generally more satisfying. That’s where amazing memories come from. Overtime battles, comeback wins, those are the stories that last the test of time.
The Patriots have had their fair share of tight games in the postseason. Just look at the Super Bowls alone, it's not exactly a secret they’ve all been tight contests. Those games have birthed heroes like Adam Vinatieri and Malcolm Butler. Oh and Tom Brady, too.
Those astonishing moments last a lifetime. New England fans might claim they wouldn’t trade those moments for blowout wins now, but if you look to this playoff run, or any in the future, you can bet they’d also be happy with 30-10 wins in every game.
That’s precisely (not that score, necessarily) what’s coming to them on Saturday when the Pats take on the Tennessee Titans. Can’t imagine anyone outside of Tennessee honestly predicted the Titans would make the playoffs his year, let alone win a game.
There is no way this team can come into Gillette and win this game. Can the Patriots lose it? Sure, but that’s a different story — and still highly unlikely.
Sure, Derrick Henry’s coming off an impressive game, against a Kansas City Chiefs team that went without a coach again in the fourth quarter. Keep in mind, he may have run for 156 yards on 23 carries, but the only other two times he’s done that came against the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans, who would’ve been the equivalent of Triple-A teams this year, if the NFL had such a thing. Henry had taken the backseat to DeMarco Murray all year, and the former Alabama back could perform well, but he hasn’t done enough to prove he’s going to dominate New England.
Marcus Mariota? Not terrible. Not great either, though. His 312 rushing yards were eighth in the league among quarterbacks, but that’s not nearly enough to scare the Patriots. Especially when it’s a guy who’s 20th in the NFL in passing yards.
He may have missed one game, but he still trailed Blake Bortles, who we all know is less than impressive; Jameis Winston, who missed three games for an embarrassing Buccaneers teams; and Dak Prescott, who went into hiding while Ezekiel Elliott was suspended.
Who’s left? Delanie Walker? Yeah he’s alright, but hardly a challenge for a tight end specialist like Patrick Chung. Eric Decker? Rishard Matthews? Take it from someone who constantly doubts New England’s secondary, this should be one of the easiest days they've had all season.
Which, again, is exactly what New England Patriots fans desire. Is that wrong? Most would say yes, but most aren’t Patriots fans, as you may have noticed when reading other publications or listening to maddening national talk show hosts. Most would enjoy seeing the dynasty crash and burn Saturday, or may even argue the trinity of Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft is unfixable.
The difference, though, between Belichick and the outside is his greatest focus is on the here and now. Luckily for him, the here and now isn’t the toughest task he’s faced.
So Patriot fans will have a nice relaxing start to the postseason, avoiding any stress. And is that so wrong of them? And are they that much different from any other set of fans outside New England?
Not sure they care, nor should they really. Especially when they continue to get what they’re looking for.
Follow Nick Friar on Twitter @Nick_Friar.