The New England Patriots will head to yet another Super Bowl next Sunday to play the Philadelphia Eagles as they look to repeat as champions.
It was a curious season for the Patriots, who lost three of four preseason games before opening the defence of their crown by being well beaten by the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
A victory in New Orleans against the Saints and a home triumph over the Houston Texans followed before New England lost, again in Foxboro, to the Carolina Panthers.
At 2-2 on the season there were genuine questions as to whether the Patriots would be yet another side with a Super Bowl hangover.
Instead the defending champions proceeded to go on an eight game winning streak that effectively won the AFC East Division for a ninth consecutive season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, the Atlanta Falcons in a rematch of last year's Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Chargers, the Denver Broncos, the Oakland Raiders, the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills all fell regardless of the location including the Raiders game in Mexico City.
Moreover what was lost in that specific streak was the fact that the Patriots did not allow more than 17 points in any game.
With all the focus on quarterback Tom Brady and the offense who generated an AFC leading 458 points, it was the defence that was ultimately setting the pace with only the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers better in the AFC.
Certainly there was the slight hiccup in Miami against the Dolphins, something of a late season tradition for New England, but three final victories sent the Patriots into the postseason as the top seed.
New England are 1.50 to win the Super Bowl on Sunday, while the Eagles are 2.70. The Patriots are 1.90 to overcome a 4.5-point spread.
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