There seems to be a growing number of people out in the football-loving free world that want to see one thing happen. You would think the answer would be for their team to win the Super Bowl but that is not it. No, they are more interested and eager to see the New England Patriots get knocked from the ranks of the NFL’s elite.

They would rather not see the Patriots win the Super Bowl more than they want to see their team get there. For much of the season, it looked like they might get their wish.

The Beginning of the End?

It all started when the team failed to beat the Houston Texans by more than they did (seven points). The Patriots were in control for the majority of the game, but for some reason, they were not able to put the Texans away.

This raised some eyebrows, but a win is a win. However, then came back-to-back losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions. The Jags were expected to be tough but not as tough as they were. But the Lions? That was a bit of a shocker—and those eagerly awaiting the fall of the Patriots to begin jumped all over it.

The comments were nothing new—the defense is terrible, Tom Brady is too old, they don’t have enough weapons on offense. Tack on all the crazy rumors about discontent among the players with Bill Belichick and the argument was almost compelling.

But then the Patriots did what they always do when people think the sky is falling in Foxboro. They went on a six-game winning streak that included victories over the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers.

The haters didn’t have much to say at that point. No one was predicting the end of the Patriots era of dominance anymore. With the defense playing well and Tom Brady figuring out how to make it work on offense, it was beginning to look like just another season for the New England Patriots.

Brady wasn’t looking like an MVP-caliber player just a year removed from winning the award. This season he isn’t even in the conversation. According to Betway Sports, his odds of winning are +4000.00 (as of December 7). But he is playing well enough to win games, and that is what matters.

Then the team traveled to Nashville for what should have been an easy game against the Tennessee Titans. But then the Patriots were absolutely dominated once again. With this being the third time this season that the Patriots were dominated, the haters and naysayers were back.

More of the Same

What those who want to see the Patriots fail tend to forget is that the team often gets off to a slow start. During the season, it is not unusual for them to have hiccups along the way; quarters, halves, and sometimes entire games where they play poorly.

But when the team is faced with its next real challenge, it always steps up to the plate. They did against the Chiefs and Bears earlier in the season, and they certainly did so once again in Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings.

At this point, it looks like the team is set for another playoff run. They have one more challenging game on their schedule (against the Pittsburgh Steelers). So, they will finish either 13-3 or 12-4. A great record, but right now it appears to only be good enough for the No. 2 seed.

However, there is a very good chance that could change.

Kansas City, the current No. 1 seed in the AFC, has a three-game slate ahead of them that is, to say the least (the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, and Seattle Seahawks). Without Kareem Hunt to pace the running game anymore, it is not hard to see them losing at least one of those three.

If that should happen, since the Patriots beat them earlier this season, New England would win the tiebreaker and slide into a very familiar place—the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

So, they may need some help to make it to the top of the conference this year. The Chiefs having to cut their star running back certainly helps, too. But in the end, it appears that while it may have appeared as if things were going to change this season for the Patriots, they are not.

It’s like the old saying—the more things change, the more things stay the same. These Patriots may not be like the 2014 or 2016 squads. But they are still the Patriots.

Winning is just what they do.