By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Sports are weird.
That is a statement that is universally true at all times, but it’s particularly relevant with regard to the New England Patriots. Specifically, the mantra applies to teams that succeed in their goal of defeating the New England Patriots.
Someone who is unfamiliar with the “sports are weird” axiom might reasonably assume that any team that could beat the Patriots — one of the better teams in the NFL — would be a pretty successful team in its own right. That someone, at least in 2018, would be extremely wrong.
Beating the Patriots in the calendar year of 2018 has proven to be a bit of a death sentence for teams. Let’s explore.
Week 11 — Titans Rolled By Texans
The Tennessee Titans defeated the New England Patriots in Week 10, and they felt pretty good about themselves. A wise member of the team even proclaimed, “That’s what happens when you go cheap; you get your ass kicked.”
Well, it’s unclear if the Titans decided to go cheap after that, but whatever the case may be, they got their booties beaten soundly by the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, to the tune of a 38-10 final score. The 28-point loss was the worst margin of defeat for the Titans this season, as they dropped to 5-5 and fell further out of the AFC playoff picture.
Dion Lewis, the man who made that bold proclamation a week earlier, was limited to 24 rushing yards on 10 attempts and just one catch for eight yards.
Granted, the loss had a lot to do with quarterback Marcus Mariota suffering an elbow injury in the second quarter. But the rout was on well before Mariota exited, with the Colts opening up a 24-0 lead through the first 27:31 of the game.
That’s a 5-5 Colts team that’s not altogether potent. But Indianapolis made Tennessee look dreadful on this day.
Week 11 — Jaguars Blow It Vs. Pittsburgh
Speaking of dreadful, the Jaguars fell to pieces in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh. After carrying a 16-0 lead deep into the third quarter, the Jaguars allowed the Steelers to score 20 unanswered points to nab a victory and further add to the misery of Jacksonville’s football team.
Those with memories long enough to recall events from two months ago may surely remember the Jaguars feeling as though they were on top of the world after they defeated Tom Brady and the Patriots in Week 2. That 11-point win served as payback of sorts for last year’s AFC Championship Game. The Jaguars felt they rightly deserved to win that game (even though they did not win that game), and the Week 2 victory this season seemed to be a statement that there was a new top dog in the AFC.
The only problem with that was that the Jaguars forgot that 15 weeks remained in the regular season. Since that win, the 2-0 Jaguars have collapsed into the 3-7 Jaguars. Instead of making plans for a Super Bowl trip, they’re talking about trading their best cornerback, maybe firing their coach, and possibly drafting a quarterback high in this year’s draft.
Suffice it to say, nobody saw that coming on the afternoon of Sept. 16.
Don’t Forget Detroit
The Detroit Lions did manage to win their game on Sunday against a solid Carolina Panthers team, but that doesn’t exclude them from this conversation.
When Matt Patricia and the Lions beat Bill Belichick and the Patriots on national television in Week 3, it could have been a springboard for Detroit to have an excellent season after a rough start. Instead, since that date, the Lions are an underwhelming 3-4. They’re 4-6 overall and they have very little chance to make the postseason. That Week 3 win over New England once looked so significant, but now appears utterly meaningless.
An Odd Twist
Losing is always bad, but the Patriots have managed to pick some strange times to do that. They’ve beaten the AFC South-leading Texans, they’ve beaten the NFC North-leading Bears, they knocked off the Miami Dolphins (who were 3-0 and held first place in the AFC East at the time of the meeting), and they’ve beaten the Kansas City Chiefs, who are 9-1 and can lay claim to being the best team in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Patriots have lost to the Jaguars (3-7), Lions (4-6), and the Titans (5-5). Go figure.
As a result, the Patriots’ Strength Of Victory is at .579, the best such mark in the entire NFL. That doesn’t have much of anything to do with the Jaguars, Titans or Lions, but it’s nevertheless an interesting twist of the 2018 Patriots season.
The Immediate Aftermath
All three of those teams — the only three teams that have beaten the Patriots this season — ended up losing their next game after their big victories over New England. Here were those final scores.
Colts 38, Titans 10 (Week 11)
Titans 9, Jaguars 6 (Week 3)
Cowboys 26, Lions 24 (Week 4)
Those three teams beat the Patriots by an average margin of 17 points, yet none could manage to use the victories as a source of momentum.
The Long-Term Letdown
While we’ve only been focused on the 2018 season here, let’s not forget about our fun-loving friends down in Philadelphia. That was a team, you might remember, that knocked off the Patriots in a thrilling Super Bowl out in Minneapolis. And as a result, that was a team that had everything figured out. Or so they said.
With an emphasis on fun, the Eagles enjoyed their post-championship offseason, as well they should have. Winning a Super Bowl is a huge deal. Winning a Super Bowl over Brady, Belichick and the Patriots is even sweeter.
But, unfortunately for the Eagles, their offseason came to an end. And when the 2018 regular season began, the Eagles kind of forgot how to win.
They’re 4-6 this season, most recently serving as the recipient of a full-scale walloping by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon. Last postseason, the Saints lost to the Vikings on a miracle last-second play, and those Vikings went on to get spanked by the Eagles. So on Sunday, the Saints seemingly set out to let it be known that this is a new season. They made their point quite clear, with a 48-7 win over the defending champs.
That’s the worst loss a defending Super Bowl champion has ever suffered.
The Collective Damage
While the Eagles would obviously never trade their Super Bowl for anything in the world, they do find themselves caught up in this rather interesting phenomenon of teams that beat the Patriots in the calendar year of 2018.
In total, the combined record of the four teams after beating the Patriots is 8-18. Winning a Super Bowl — a fake regular-season one, or the real deal — may not be the best idea.
Woe is the team that dares defeats the New England Patriots. Doing so clearly just brings a curse upon that team for having the audacity to disrupt the football Fates.