NFL Football

Underdog Patriots face top seed KC. Yes, you read that right

(AP Photo/File)


AP Sports Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) It may have been hard to hear him over the noise of the New England fans celebrating an eighth straight trip to the AFC title game, but Tom Brady is feeling disrespected.

That's right: The three-time NFL MVP and five-time Super Bowl champion told a national TV audience after demolishing the Los Angeles Chargers in the playoffs, "I know everyone thinks we suck and can't win any games.

"We'll see," Brady said with a roguish look in his eyes. "Could be fun."

There hasn't been an NFL run like the Patriots' - at least in the Super Bowl era - with Brady and coach Bill Belichick leading the franchise to 10 straight AFC East titles and 15 in 16 years, resulting in eight trips to the Super Bowl and five NFL crowns.

"You're talking about a dynasty," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "If there is such a thing in the National Football League, they've been that."

And yet as they prepare to travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs (13-4) in Sunday's AFC championship game, Brady is right about one thing: The Patriots (12-5) are a 3-point underdog, and that's an unusual position for them.

"We're going against a team that's the No. 1 seed in the league," Brady said after the team's final practice on Friday. "I'm sure there's a lot of people that are thinking they're going to win. Everyone can have their own opinion. We certainly have an opinion, and we've got to go out there and execute our best in order to accomplish that."

Players have long found their motivation wherever they can, whether it's the oddsmakers or experts or comments from the opposing team that go up on the locker room for all to see. Heading into the NFC title game, some banter about gumbo has turned into a rallying cry for the Los Angeles Rams.

The Chiefs have been careful not to help out with any bulletin board material.

"I don't think they suck," tight end Travis Kelce said. "I can tell you that."

But rustling up slights to motivate themselves is just another thing they've mastered.

Responding to the public perception - or at least that of the oddsmakers - receiver Julian Edelman tweeted a Chiefs hype video lauding quarterback Patrick Mahomes as the best player in the league. Edelman made no secret what he thought of that, adding a hashtag: "(hash)BetAgainstUs"; he is also selling T-shirts with the slogan squeezed into the shape of the Patriots logo.

Special teams star Matthew Slater said he wasn't motivated as much by being an underdog in this game as other times he was doubted in his life.

"I'm not supposed to be playing in this league anyways," he said, "so we've got plenty of motivation."

Defensive back Jason McCourty was a sixth-round draft pick - just like Brady.

And, just like Brady, and he hasn't forgotten.

"You've just always had that chip on your shoulder, and no matter what you go through in life, especially with football, there's just always someone or something," McCourty said.

"I think that type of mindset, no matter if you're 16-0, you're rolling through the playoffs, no matter what the situation is, there's always going to be somebody that's doubting you or saying something about you. I think for certain guys individually, it may be something that kind of gives you that extra kick."


AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.


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Updated January 18, 2019

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Teams Score Time
New York 4 F
Kansas City 1
New York   2:15pm
Kansas City  
American League
Cleveland 5 F
New York 6
Seattle 4 F
Toronto 3
Houston 4 F
Oakland 8
Detroit 0 F
Tampa Bay 1
Baltimore 0 F
Boston 4
Minnesota 10 9th
Texas 7
Chicago 5 7th
Los Angeles 2
Baltimore   1:05pm
Cleveland   1:05pm
New York  
Seattle   1:07pm
Detroit   1:10pm
Tampa Bay  
Minnesota   3:05pm
Chicago   4:07pm
Los Angeles  
Houston   4:07pm
National League
Chicago 2 F
Pittsburgh 0
St. Louis 1 F
Cincinnati 6
Milwaukee 12 13th
Washington 12
San Diego 5 F
Philadelphia 3
Los Angeles 3 F
Atlanta 4
Miami 4 F
Colorado 11
San Francisco 11 F
Arizona 6
San Diego   1:05pm
St. Louis   1:10pm
Los Angeles   1:20pm
Milwaukee   1:35pm
Miami   3:10pm
San Francisco   4:10pm
Chicago   7:10pm
Teams Score Time
Cleveland 21 F
Indianapolis 18
New England 22 F
Tennessee 17
Kansas City 7 F
Pittsburgh 17
Detroit 23 F
Houston 30
Dallas 14 1:16 4th
Los Angeles 10
New Orleans   4:00pm
Los Angeles  
Seattle   8:00pm
San Francisco   Mon 8:00pm
BMW Championship
Pos Name Score Thru
1 Justin Thomas -21 12:20pm
2 Patrick Cantlay -15 12:20pm
2 Tony Finau -15 12:20pm
4 Rory Sabbatini -14 12:09pm
5 Jon Rahm -13 12:09pm
6 Corey Conners -12 11:58am
6 Lucas Glover -12 11:58am
6 Brandt Snedeker -12 12:09pm
9 Rickie Fowler -11 11:58am
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 11 Denny Hamlin 1
2 95 Matt Dibenedetto 7
3 2 Brad Keselowski 13
4 18 Kyle Busch 31
5 9 Chase Elliott 6
6 42 Kyle Larson 2
7 14 Clint Bowyer 20
8 41 Daniel Suarez 18
9 1 Kurt Busch 4
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 2 Tyler Reddick 38
2 98 Chase Briscoe 6
3 23 John Hunter Nemechek 9
4 51 Jeremy Clements 5
5 22 Austin Cindric 1
6 08 Gray Gaulding 13
7 61 Timmy Hill 21
8 7 Justin Allgaier 3
9 1 Michael Annett 15
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 24 Brett Moffitt 1
2 51 Chandler Smith 7
3 4 Ross Chastain 2
4 52 Stewart Friesen 3
5 98 Grant Enfinger 14
6 2 Sheldon Creed 24
7 88 Matt Crafton 11
8 99 Ben Rhodes 4
9 4 Todd Gilliland 17