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NFL Playoff Picture: Why the Patriots Have an Edge on Everyone to the Super Bowl

Dec 16, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) on the sideline during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Chris TrapassoAnalyst IJanuary 4, 2013

In November, I believed the New England Patriots would not repeat as AFC champions—over the last six games of the year, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady proved my projections totally wrong.

I knew I shouldn't have bet against those two. 

How stupid of me. 

If you didn't click the link, I believed the incredible rate in which the Patriots were forcing turnovers (27 in the first 10 games) would slow.

For the most part, it didn't.

Over the final month and a half, those pesky Pats forced 14 more turnovers to finish the year with a downright insane plus-25 turnover differential which lead the NFL.

We all know how vital turnovers are to winning. 

After sitting comfortably, yet not ideally, in the No. 3 spot for most of the 2012 regular season (a slot which would ensure a divisional-round road game), they crept into the No. 2 spot in Week 17. 

How Patriots of them, right?

Now that I swung and emphatically missed, it's easy to see that New England has an edge on the rest of the AFC en route to the Super Bowl. 

First and foremost, its clear-cut affinity for turnovers and home-field advantage until the AFC title game will be enormous. 

Though they were beat twice at home in 2012, there's no way the Patriots are intimidated by the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans—two teams who New England destroyed inside Gillette Stadium—and it'd be hard to imagine Belichick fears the Baltimore Ravens with the way they performed down the stretch.

That Brady guy is the ultimate weapon and will likely play a huge factor as well. 

After that, a likely matchup with Peyton Manning in Denver looms, but the legendary No. 18 hasn't exactly destroyed Belichick in his postseason career. Also, Manning did lose to the Patriots in Week 5 despite throwing for over 330 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Pats didn't get a monster game from Brady.

Confidence should rightfully be riding high in Foxborough, as the second-seeded Patriots have an edge on the rest of the teams in the AFC playoff race.

 

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