Twelve seasons: that’s how long it’s been since the Super Bowl champ repeated. Coincidentally, the New England Patriots, who were the last team to do it, now have the next shot at breaking the drought.
What was once a common occurrence in the league has become more rare than a Rob Gronkowski steak. Only three teams have accomplished the feat since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990. But following a historic comeback in Super Bowl LI, the Patriots enter the offseason as the odds-on favorite to win Super Bowl LII, according to MyTopSportsBooks.com.
As long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are at the helm, this team will always be at the forefront of title talk. But there are plenty of speed bumps on the road to repeating, starting with Brady’s age. It seems absurd to question a quarterback who just set a Super Bowl record for passing yardage, but NFL history isn’t exactly loaded with success stories of 40-year-old quarterbacks. In fact, just four QBs have started eight or more games in a season after hitting that ominous age, and one of them was Vinny Testaverde.
The two most relevant examples to compare Brady to are Brett Favre and Warren Moon. Favre actually had an MVP-calibre season the year he turned 40, but bottomed out the following season, seeing his passer rating drop from 107 to 69 (if you know what I mean). Moon’s statistical drop off wasn’t as drastic, but in the 25 starts he made after turning 40, he did have a losing record.
Obviously, Brady’s situation is a little different than both those quarterbacks. Not only does he treat his body far better than athletes from a previous era, he’s also sustained far fewer hits over his career. He’s been in the same offensive system for years, whereas both Favre and Moon were working with new teams.
Regardless of all the advantages Tom Brady has, eventually every passer hits a wall. It happened to both Favre and Moon, two Hall of Famers. It happened to Peyton Manning. And one day, it will happen to the greatest of all time.