What a year it was for the New England Patriots. Brady missed four games, Gronk went down in the second half of the season and yet, the Pats finished with 14-2 record, good enough for the top seed in the AFC and the best record in the NFL. They have handled the Dolphins in Miami, but the interesting thing was the fact that Belichick didn’t rest his best players at all.
We can understand why he played his top guys as this game still had a meaning for the Patriots. If they had lost and Raiders won their match in Denver, Oakland would have taken away the home-field advantage that the Patriots have. Now, with New England’s win, they don’t even have to care about the result of the matchup between the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders.
That clearly shows what the home-field advantage means to New England. They also played in Miami in last year’s Week 17. The Dolphins won that game, Denver won its match, and the Broncos have taken away Patriots’ home-field advantage. Championship game took place in Mile-High City, and the Broncos went all the way.
In 2014, the road to the Super Bowl had to go through New England and the Patriots won it all that year. All of this shows that playing in Foxboro in the Playoffs really means a lot to the Patriots and is a big factor for them. They knew that their best chance of going all the way is if they won this duel in Miami. Belichick didn’t want to take any chances. Now, the Patriots are clear-cut favorites to make it to the Super Bowl.