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How to cope with yet another Patriots trip to the Super Bowl

Not thrilled to see the Patriots in the mix for their sixth Lombardi Trophy? Maybe we can help.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

So here we are again. The New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl, a development even non-Tony Romos could’ve predicted.

If you’re a Patriots fan, then congratulations on the dynasty getting dynastier. If you’re not a Patriots fan, you’d probably rather have a colonoscopy than sit through yet another Tom Brady-Bill Belichick supervillain Super Bowl.

The Patriots hate isn’t confined to any single team or conference. It’s widespread and the inevitable result of a team so dominant that it makes eight Super Bowls in 18 years. You may wish that we had any matchup other than Patriots-Eagles (again) or that that asteroid would hit Earth before we’re subjected to a smug-looking Robert Kraft clutching another Lombardi Trophy.

But just because the Patriots are there again doesn’t mean you have to skip the game and rewatch the Puppy Bowl. This year’s Super Bowl, even if it feels like the Patriots are as played out as “Dilly Dilly,” can still be enjoyable.

If you’re struggling to find ways to embrace it, we’re here to help.

Tom Brady Super Bowls are always instant classics

Every single Tom Brady Super Bowl has been decided in the final minute, and every. single. one. has been AWESOME.

The most memorable is also the most recent. Just last year, Brady overcame a 28-3 deficit to surge back and beat the Falcons 34-28 in the first overtime in Super Bowl history. But the guy actually makes a habit of doing this in Super Bowls. He earned three of his five rings — Super Bowl LI, Super Bowl XLIV, and Super Bowl XXXVII — on late-game comebacks.

Maybe you hate the Patriots. But who doesn’t love a great game?

Nobody gives better press conferences than Bill Belichick

Everyone knows that Belichick isn’t going to divulge anything that could even remotely be a competitive advantage for the Eagles. That won’t stop reporters from asking the questions, which means we’ll get to enjoy a bunch of classic Belichickian one-liners between now and the Super Bowl.

And hey, there’s always the chance he starts waxing poetic about an esoteric special teams formation.

Any given Patriots player could be a highlight machine

The Patriots have an eye-rolling, if scarily accurate, motto: next man up. Like in the AFC Championship, if one player goes down (Rob Gronkowski), another will step up (Danny Amendola) to deliver a clutch moment when the team needs it:

Jags lose

In last year’s Super Bowl, it was Julian Edelman’s catch. And it was James White’s record-setting game. Oh yeah, and Dont’a Hightower was the unsung hero (again).

Two of those players, Edelman and Hightower, are injured this time around. But it doesn’t matter. We know what Brady can do, but as unbelievable as it seems, he can’t do it alone. At least one of his teammates — bet the over — will come up big. You just don’t know which one(s) it’ll be yet.

Tom Brady might be superhuman

The fingers feature the most concentrated groupings of nerve endings in the entire human body. Put into layman’s terms, that means that if you cut your thumb badly enough to need 12 stitches to fix it, it’ll hurt like hell. Tom Brady won a conference championship with a terribly painful injury to his throwing hand, and he brushed it off after the fact.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Brady’s still kicking everyone’s ass at age 40. That gives hope to all of us.

On the other hand, it could be Tom Brady’s last Super Bowl

It may seem like Brady is aging in reverse or a vampire or siphoning talent from younger quarterbacks through some kind of witchcraft. But his career is going to end at some point.

Brady hopes to continue to play until he’s 45 and maybe he will. But there’s also the real possibility that his matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles will be his last Super Bowl. And since that could wind up being the case, you should do your best to appreciate his remarkable career and its potential last time in the spotlight, no matter how much you’re sick of it.

One last hurrah for Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, Bill Belichick

Super Bowl LII will be the last time offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will call plays for the Patriots.

Patricia’s rising star will lead him to the Lions, where he’ll attempt to guide a historically futile franchise into the spotlight in a competitive NFC North. McDaniels will get his second shot as a head coach with a hopefully healthy Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.

It’s deja vu for the Patriots. They faced off against the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX knowing that it would be the last stand for then-OC Charlie Weis and DC Romeo Crennel.

History may show this New England team had four NFL head coaches — including linebackers coach Brian Flores, who landed a few interviews after the 2017 season — on its sideline Sunday. That’s a treasure chest of coaching talent — even if Belichick disciples haven’t exactly lit the world on fire after leaving Foxborough.

Will we hear anything more about the supposed feud?

The Patriots won’t get distracted in the two weeks before the Super Bowl. They’re too much of robots seasoned pros for that. Buuuuuut, maybe we’ll get some more juicy gossip about the reported feud centered on Belichick’s distrust of Brady’s personal snake oil salesman guru?

Since that ESPN report came out, the Patriots haven’t shown any signs of discord. But if potty-mouthed Brady erupts on the sideline at any point, expect the rumor mill to start heating up again:

Andrew Luck would never!

Kenny Britt might get a Super Bowl ring

Britt signed a four-year, $32.5 million contract with the Browns this offseason, catching only 18 passes in nine games before he was unceremoniously cut basically the second that new general manager John Dorsey was hired. It can’t feel great to be released by a team that went 0-16 this year, but we doubt Britt is complaining.

James Harrison gets another chance to stick it to the Steelers

Maybe this story isn’t especially heartwarming — particularly for Steelers fans. The veteran linebacker sulked his way out of Pittsburgh, where he’d played in just five games before disrupting enough team meetings to earn his release. Then he defected to the Steelers’ biggest non-Ravens rival: the Patriots.

But Harrison hasn’t just been a source of intel on the Steelers. He’s been an important part of the Patriots’ postseason success. In two playoff games — one start — he’s contributed six tackles (including a fourth-quarter pressure that led to a strip-sack of Blake Bortles), been a useful edge-setter in the team’s pass rush, and even added support in the passing game.

More importantly, Harrison is a nonconformist who refused to join his team at the White House back when Barack Obama was in charge. Hearing what he might have to say about President Donald Trump could push his rhetoric to new levels — assuming Trump sets aside his hostility toward the NFL and extends an invitation.

Get ready for Rob Gronkowski’s oft-ridiculous antics

Rob Gronkowski, a Pacific Rim Jaeger piloted by a litter of golden retriever puppies, has long been one of the league’s most notable personalities. On the field, he’s a mismatch-creating monster whose blend of size and speed makes him both virtually uncoverable AND a space-clearing run blocker. Off the field, he’s the guy who snickers at the thought of the number that follows 68 and hosts his own party cruise.

We missed his postgame contributions last winter after a back injury — an injury the Patriots overcame en route to a Super Bowl title. A head injury kept him from the second half of this year’s AFC title game and robbed us of any new Gronk celebrations — say, eating pineapple leaves and all or attempting to shotgun a bottle of Veuve. God willing, that won’t be the case in Minneapolis.

Tom Brady’s much more relatable than you think

Sure, you don’t have an UGGs endorsement, or a supermodel wife, or a Make America Great Again hat in your locker. But in some ways, Brady is just like you.

Who among us doesn’t have some history of regrettable hairstyle choices? Well, so does Brady:

He also finds himself smack dab in the middle of his share of uncomfortable situations. We’ve all been there. That’s why it’s actually endearing when Brady’s teammates leave him hanging on a high five:

He even has bad days at work, just like the rest of us:

If the Patriots beat the Eagles — and let’s face it, they probably will — we’ll have the joy of seeing Brady dancing awkwardly at a party again. He’ll just be wearing six rings this time around.

What if the Patriots...lose?

Watching the Patriots lose in the Super Bowl is always more satisfying than watching them lose in the Divisional Round.

Which New England playoff crashes do you remember more vividly? An early January loss to Rex Ryan’s Jets or the epic February defeats at the hands of Tom Coughlin and the Giants? Patriots schadenfreude reaches its peak in February, even if it doesn’t happen often. “Sad Tom Brady” doesn’t become a meme at the AFC Championship — that’s the kind of magic that only happens at the Super Bowl.

We’ll never see another team like the Patriots again

The Patriots are just so damn good. Twenty years from now when Brady is actually retired (probably) and some other team is the bane of the entire league’s existence, the contemporary Patriots are the team you’re going to tell your kids about.

The franchise already owns an obscene amount of Super Bowl records, as does Brady and Belichick. And they keeping adding to them:

  • This is the 10th Patriots Super Bowl appearance in team history. That’s more than anyone else.
  • Brady has eight AFC Championship wins, the most of any quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
  • If the Patriots win Super Bowl LII, Brady will hold the record for the most career NFL titles. Right now, he’s tied with former 49ers and Cowboys DL Charles Haley with five.
  • No player/coach duo has more wins in the postseason than Belichick and Brady, who have teamed up for eight Super Bowl appearances and five wins.

The Patriots are so good that their mere presence destabilizes opponents into frittering away double-digit leads. That’s what makes this team so compelling — the greatness and the hateness go hand in hand.

At the end of the day, the Patriots will be playing in February again. There’s no changing that, asteroid pending. No matter how “been there, done that” it may seem, there are still plenty of reasons to get excited about Super Bowl LII — even if you can’t bring yourself to cheer for the team that’s there almost every year.

The Patriots rallied while the Eagles rolled on Sunday