Around this time of year, NFL teams all around the league send their season ticket holders an envelope containing preseason and regular season tickets for the upcoming year. However, Patriots fans received tickets to another event in their annual ticket deck: the AFC Championship game. Yes, while other teams are focused in the preseason and preparing for the regular season, the defending Super Bowl champs are already looking to the playoffs and assuming they will play for the right to go to the Super Bowl for the seventh consecutive year.
The Pats better be sure they do indeed make football's final four this year, because if they get bounced from the playoffs early or miss them all together, the organization will never hear the end of it.
To be fair to New England, the Raiders did the same thing with their tickets, but their move implies lofty expectations and goals for an exiting year with a healthy Derek Carr after a 12-4 2016. The Patriot's inclusion of the ticket screams of hubris, the perennial AFC East Champions expecting to still be playing in late January.
Another interesting twist to this story: the Pats released these tickets just after Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was injured in practice and rumored out for the year. Were the Pats scared of Miami crashing their AFC East title plans, and waited until their QB was hurt before promising an AFC title game appearance, or was it merely a coincidence? We're betting on coincidence, but you can never be sure.
Our guess is the Pats are not too scared of the Fins, having finished with a better record than the Floridians every year since 2008, when they both were at 11-5. Only Miami made the playoffs then, and New England hasn't missed since. Apparently they're pretty convinced this won't be that year, either.