NBC Sunday Night Football color analyst Cris Collinsworth stepped out on a limb Monday on Twitter when he willingly offered up his Super Bowl prediction and strongly implied that the Patriots make it back to the big game this year.
Collinsworth mentions the four Super Bowls he’s called, and New England being involved in all four. I understand what Cris is going for here, but this can only be classified as wishful thinking from the former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver. Surely, as a broadcaster, he’s going for the most drama-laden matchup for the final game of the season. Of course, this would be Tom Brady and Tampa Bay taking on Bill Belichick and New England.
While this matchup would provide the most compelling narrative, it might not be the best game to watch. The Patriots have played much better over the last month, winning four in a row and beating down Cleveland 45-7 in Week 10. Coach Belichick has the Pats a half-game behind Buffalo in the east at 6-4 now. A return to the postseason seems highly probable for Belichick at this point, but I can’t jump out there like Collinsworth and predict a Super Bowl appearance. It’s also worth noting that no starting quarterback has ever made it to the Super Bowl his rookie year — Mac Jones would be the first.
Over the last eight weeks of the season, we’ll find out how real the Patriots are, and if they indeed have a shot at making it out of the AFC. They’ll play a couple of AFC heavyweights in Tennessee then Buffalo twice, and those are the biggest challenges left for Rookie Mac Jones and the Patriots. A playoff berth should be in New England’s future if they can take care of business by beating the teams they’re supposed to — like Atlanta, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Miami.
Realistically, the Patriots are still in the hunt for the AFC East crown with two games left against the Bills. There aren’t too many people outside of the New England area who thought the Pats even had a chance at winning that division this year, but here they are with seven games remaining, right in the thick of it all. Collinsworth may be onto something with his prognostication, but only time will tell.