The Patriots face a rare playoff hurdle they’ve never faced in Bill Belichick’s 22 years as coach


Since Bill Belichick was hired in 2000, the New England Patriots have played a total of 41 playoff games under their 69-year-old coach, and during that time they have faced many challenges. However, there is one thing the Patriots have never had to deal with under Belichick and that is being a road team in a wild card game.

Over the past 21 years, the Patriots have played in the wild-card round a total of four times, but they’ve never been a true wild-card team. In each of those four instances, the Patriots entered the playoffs as a division winner who was scheduled to play in the wildcard round.

The fact that the Patriots will take to the road in the wildcard round this week is remarkable, because if there are two playoff situations the Patriots seem to struggle with, it’s when they play on the road and when they play in nature- card trick. This year’s playoff opener combines those two things.

Belichick has coached the Patriots for over two decades and in that time the team has only made eight playoff games on the road and they have gone 4-4 in those games. Since 2005, the Patriots are 2-4 in road playoffs, their last loss to the Titans in the wildcard round after the 2019 season.

Speaking of the wildcard round, the Patriots only played four wildcard games under Belichick and they went 2-2 in those games. However, if you look at more recent history, the Patriots are 0-2 in the wildcard round for the past 15 years. Besides the 20-13 loss to Tennessee, the Patriots also suffered a 33-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in January 2010.

Prior to this year, the last time the Patriots played on the road in the wildcard round was in January 1999 when Pete Carroll was the coach (the Patriots lost that game 25-10 to the Jaguars).

If the Patriots want to get out of the wild card round this year, they’re going to have to pull off an upset against a Bills team that’s favored by 4.5 points against them. Belichick is actually 3-1 in his career as a playoff underdog, but his most recent victory came in January 2007 against a Chargers team that was favored by five.

Another notable thing about Belichick’s tenure in New England is that the Patriots NEVER made the Super Bowl in a year they had to play in the wildcard round (2005, 2006, 2009, 2019 ). The closest they came was in 2006 when the Patriots came out of the wild card round and advanced to the AFC title game before losing a wild game 38-34 to the Colts. Based on this information, you might want to avoid betting on the Patriots to make it to the Super Bowl.

Winning the Super Bowl as a wild card is not an easy thing to do in the NFL: only six teams have done so in the past 40 years. However, one of the teams to succeed was Tom Brady’s Buccaneers in 2020, which could help motivate Belichick to accomplish the same feat this year.

If Belichick leads his team to a Super Bowl victory, it would be arguably the best coaching performance of his career. Not only would that mean getting out of the wild card round, but it would mean winning the Super Bowl with a rookie quarterback, which is remarkable because no NFL team has ever won a Super Bowl with a rookie under center.

Belichick entering NFL history en route to his seventh Super Bowl victory would likely be enough to reignite those Brady-Belichick debates, especially if New England’s Super Bowl win comes against the Buccaneers.

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