This week the lowly New York Jets take on the mighty New England Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots rarely lose at home. The last time the Jets managed to beat the Patriots in Foxboro was in the 2010 playoffs, when the best Jets team since 1998 upset the Patriots 28-21. It took a legitimate Super Bowl contender to manage the feat in January 2011. The probability that a contender for the worst team in the NFL might do it, with home field advantage throughout the playoffs still on the line for the Patriots, is vanishingly small. Yes, I know, any given Sunday and all that rot. But let's be real, shall we? This is a Jets team with nearly it's entire starting offensive line out with injuries, with a third string quarterback starting, with its second best receiver out for the year, with one of its two top running backs unlikely to suit up, with both starting outside linebackers banged up, and with nearly all its best players suffering through poor seasons. In the best of circumstances a late season upset in Foxboro would be a stretch; in the present circumstances it would take a Christmas miracle. So let's be real; the Jets are not winning today.
Since the Jets are not winning we can dispense with the usual course of this weekly feature in which we seek out a statistic that might indicate a path to victory. Much as it pains me to acknowledge it, that would be an exercise in futility. So for today only, in the spirit of Christmas, we are going to forget for a moment how much we despise the Brady Bunch and we are going to acknowledge just how impressive this opponent has been.
Since Tom Brady took the reins in Foxboro and teamed up with his Hoodiness, the Lord Of Darkness, the Patriots have been as great a dynasty as the NFL has ever seen. That they have achieved their success in the age of the salary cap makes it an almost unfathomable level of greatness. Around these parts we are proud, and rightly so, of the Jets' back to back AFC Championship game appearances. It was a great run for the Jets in 2009-2010, a time Jets fans will not soon forget. The odds of any random team getting to the championship game in any given season are one in eight. The odds of any random team doing it in any given back to back seasons are 1 in 64. That isn't easy. And then there are the Patriots. The Patriots have been to the AFC Championship game the last five seasons straight, and are odds on favorites to make that six straight this year. Five straight! The odds of any random team pulling that off are about 33,000 to 1. If the Patriots win one home playoff game this year they'll make it six straight. The odds of that? About 260,000 to 1. That's how great this run has been for the Patriots. But that's not the Stat Of The Week.
Are you ready for it? The Stat Of The Week? Can you feel the frisson of excitement building? Well here it is. Keeping it Jets related here's the amazing stat of the Patriots greatness that disheartens all other AFC East teams. Since 2002, the year Chad Pennington made his superb NFL debut and led the Jets to their last AFC East title, every single Tom Brady led Patriots team has won the AFC East, without exception. Only the 2008 Patriots failed to win the East, and that was the year Brady was out for the year with an injury. 13 Brady seasons, 13 AFC East championships. Would you like to know the odds of any random team pulling that off? That would be one in 67,108,864. One in 67 million! That's how incomparably great the Brady led Patriots have been, and that's the Stat Of The Week.
Merry Christmas Brady Bunch. In the spirit of the season I find myself reluctantly acknowledging your greatness. Enjoy it while it lasts; the expiration dates on Tom and Hoodie are fast approaching, and the NFL may never see the likes of this kind of incredible run again.