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Article Highlights:

  • The New England Patriots are in the thick of the AFC playoff race
  • Two late-season matchups between the Patriots and Buffalo Bills should decide the AFC East title
  • NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth says the Patriots have played in every Super Bowl he’s worked, and his fifth title-game assignment is coming up

Football fans too consumed by statistics need to remember that people have drowned in rivers with an average depth of three feet. Nevertheless, the Manning Curse on Monday Night Football feels awfully real, and a factoid that NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth dropped on social media about the New England Patriots is too wild to ignore.

Maybe, just maybe, numbers mean something after all.

The New England Patriots are in the thick of the AFC playoff picture

Cris Collinsworth has done color commentary on four Super Bowl broadcasts for Fox Sports or NBC. The New ENgland Patriots have played in all four of those games. | Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

There is only one AFC team with more victories than the New England Patriots just past the midpoint of the 2021 NFL season. That team is the Tennessee Titans, who happen to be without star running back Derrick Henry, leading observers to suggest Tennessee will be coming back to the pack.

The Patriots started the season 2-4, but four straight victories (three of the blowout variety) have pulled New England within half a game of AFC East preseason favorite Buffalo. The thing is, though, that both teams have been feeding off subpar opponents thus far.

The Patriots’ only victory over a team currently above .500 came against the 5-4 Los Angeles Chargers. The Bills, heading into a challenging six-week stretch of their schedule, have also beaten just one team currently above .500, the 6-4 Kansas City Chiefs.

Undoubtedly, the AFC East title, and the guaranteed berth in the playoffs, comes down to the Bills and Patriots going head-to-head in Weeks 13 and 16. The Chiefs look like the only team capable of catching fire and running the AFC table when it counts, so everyone else making the playoffs possesses a puncher’s chance.

All in all, Bill Belichick must like where the Patriots stand right now.

Cris Collinsworth offers an ominous factoid for New England Patriots haters

New England Patriots haters already have their hands full. The franchise with half a dozen Super Bowl championships this century slipped to 7-9 in the first season of the post-Tom Brady era, but Bill Belichick has rebuilt. The combination of a 6-4 start and the NFL’s expanded regular-season schedule has New England on pace for double-digit wins for the 18th time in 19 years.

On top of that, Belichick may have landed the most NFL-ready quarterback of the 2021 NFL Draft despite four other signal-callers going before the Patriots selected Mac Jones. The seven interceptions and two lost fumbles are a little distressing, but Jones is otherwise tearing it up in his rookie season: a 69.0% completion percentage, 2,333 yards, and 13 touchdown passes through 10 games.

Bad for Patriots haters, right?

And then NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth had to go and add this on Twitter to make it just a little worse:

“I have called 4 Super Bowls, this one will be my 5th. The Patriots have been in every one. Just saying…”

Tom Brady is never far away from Cris Collinsworth’s Super Bowl assignments

The Cris Collinsworth association with Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots is real.

Collinsworth, who retired from playing in the NFL in 1988 and went into broadcasting, has been the game analyst for four Super Bowls with Fox Sports or NBC. All have involved the Patriots.

Teamed with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for Super Bowl 39 on Feb. 6, 2005, Collinsworth worked the Patriots’ 24-21 triumph over the Philadelphia Eagles. Tom Brady completed 23 of 33 attempts for 236 yards and two scores to beat Donovan McNabb.

Seven years later, Collinsworth and Al Michaels had the call in Super Bowl 46 in Indianapolis as Eli Manning and the Giants edged New England, 17-14. Manning’s 38-yard pass to Mario Manningham started the drive culminating in Ahmad Bradshaw’s 6-yard scoring run with under a minute to go.

It was Collinsworth and Michaels again in Super Bowl 49 at the University of Phoenix Stadium, where the Patriots edged the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 with Brady throwing for 328 yards and four touchdowns.

Most recently, the same pair called Super Bowl 52 in 2018. The crowd in Minneapolis saw the Eagles outgun New England, 41-33, on the strength of Nick Foles’ 373 yards and three TDs to offset 505 yards and three scores by Brady.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

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