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We are 18 years into the New England Patriots dynasty. A run that started during the 2001 regular season is likely going to stretch into its third decade, which would be unprecedented in most sports and seems downright unfathomable in the modern NFL, where attrition and the salary cap conspire to strike down promising teams before they grow comfortable atop their divisions. There might never be a team like the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick Patriots again.
By virtue of that 18-year reign, though, the Patriots have amassed what amounts to a popular folklore. There are stories and arguments about how the Patriots perform and what they do to win games, and while some of them are true, plenty aren't. Some of the ideas might have been true at one time but haven't been the case in years. Others were built upon an insufficient sample, with one play or one game used to tell a broader story without any tests or support.
Everything - Week
Everything you need this week:
I wrote about myths for all of last week's eight playoff teams. With the Patriots, I found that a common claim held up with regard to New England simply isn't accurate. Despite what you might hear during Pats games, there's no evidence that the Patriots consistently sport a bend-but-don't-break defense. Belichick doesn't tell his defense to suddenly figure things out in the red zone because that doesn't make any sense. Great defenses are great all over the field.
Out - Way - List - Stories - Patriots
With that one out of the way, I came up with a whole list of stories that seem to sprout up about or around the Patriots organization. (Brady on Sunday gave me one more for the list.) I went and tested those theories out using the data from New England's run over the past 18 years. Some of them turned out...
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