The NFL's Road to Titletown Runs Through the New England Patriots

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The NFL's Road to Titletown Runs Through the New England Patriots
Harry How/Getty Images

This last month, graduation as well as other commitments have prevented me from really covering much in the sports world. However, my friend, All-State offensive guard and football researcher Zack Palmer, has contributed this article in my absence.

 

February 6th saw the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers for their fourth Super Bowl and their 12th NFL title overall. With their win over "Sixburgh," Green Bay could truly stake its claim to the namesake of "Titletown."

The Packers had a season to remember: starting with much preseason hype and being (accurately) predicted to beat Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl by SI's Peter King. Their super season included player after player falling to injury. The biggest of these injuries seemed to be the concussion suffered by Aaron Rodgers in a Week 14 loss to Detroit. The next week the Packers limped into New England to play the Patriots on national television, starting a quarterback with no prior NFL starts. Instead of folding against the NFL's hottest team, the Packers took them to the wire and lost 31-27. This effort sparked wins for the Packers in their last two games and, with a little help from the Eagles and Lions, sneaked into the playoffs. The rest is history.

Now, thinking about this reminded me of a similar game that happened during the 2009 season. A Week 12 Monday Night matchup placed the undefeated New Orleans Saints against the almighty...New England Patriots.

The Saints were undefeated and had not really faced an opponent the caliber of New England. Many expected a coming-down-to-Earth experience for New Orleans. Instead, New Orleans played its best game of the season to date and prevailed 38-17 in a game that was never close. New Orleans, after cementing itself as a true contended, would go onto beat Indianapolis and win Super Bowl 44.

In Week 13 of the 2008 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers matched up with...the New England Patriots. As you may know, those Steelers went on to win their sixth Super Bowl. In fact, in the past 10 years, every Super Bowl winner, except for the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has either been the Patriots or played the Patriots:

2001, 2003 and 2004 Super Bowls: Patriots
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers: Lost 23-20 to New England in Week 3
2006 Indianapolis Colts: Defeated New England 27-20 in Week 9
2007 New York Giants: Lost 38-35 to New England in Week 17
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers: Defeated New England 33-10 in Week 13
2009 New Orleans Saints: Defeated New England 38-17 in Week 12
2010 Green Bay Packers: Lost to New England 31-27 in Week 15

This data would suggest that the "Road to Titletown" would somehow involve New England.

In 2011, the Patriots lock horns with 13 teams: Dolphins, Jets, Bills, Steelers, Chargers, Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins and Eagles.

Looking at this list, I can comfortable eliminate the Bills, Dolphins, Redskins, Chiefs, Raiders and Broncos from Super Bowl contention for several reasons (new regimes, too young, etc). I am also comfortable taking Pittsburgh off of that list due to their runner-up finish in the Super Bowl, due to the fact that the Super Bowl runner-up has won a grand total of one playoff game the year after they lost.

So the Jets, Chargers, Colts, Cowboys, Giants and Eagles remain. Now add in New England, who won 14 games last year and had six of the first 90 picks in this year's draft, and you have your short list for those who can pack their bags for the the "Road to Titletown."

 

Zack Palmer will be attending Allegheny College this fall as a student-athlete.

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