New England Patriots

Bill Belichick looks on for the New England Patriots prior to the game against the Oakland Raiders at Estadio Azteca on November 19, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff,

You know, it’s unclear whether these people were even trying to begin with. But the usual suspects who just have it out for Tom Brady and the Patriots have officially stopped trying to pretend they’re doing anything but trolling all of New England.

Look, you don’t need to have Brady as the No. 1 ranked playoff quarterback. You don’t need to have the Patriots as the No. 1 team, either. But to rank the two-time defending AFC Champions at the bottom of your rankings, under some completely unproven commodities, is just blatantly exposing your agenda.

Take Stephen A. Smith, for instance. He doesn’t always rail against the Patriots, but man oh man did he join the club with this one. It’s one thing if he ranked Brady below Andrew Luck, Patrick Mahomes, and even Philip Rivers. Dak effing Prescott???

And there’s noted Brady hater and human urinal cake Rob Parker, who has the Patriots as the worst team remaining in the playoffs. Yes, they’re under the 10-6 barely-won-a-bad-division Dallas Cowboys and 9-7 barely-a-wild-card Philadelphia Eagles, for no particularly cogent reason other than to make me write this story, I guess.

And of course, you got Shannon Sharpe, who MacGuyer’d himself a nice “Brady is an arrogant jerk for saying he watched film” take.

These guys have jobs to do, just like me. Their main jobs are to be provocative and spark entertaining debates and draw reactions, and there may be no easier way to do that with NFL fans than to aggressively denigrate Brady and/or the Patriots. No surprise that these three guys are leading the charge this week. But this time, there isn’t even a reasonable explanation behind these takes. Nothing they could say could possibly justify ranking the Cowboys ahead of the Patriots, or Prescott ahead of Brady. A new low for the hot-takiest of hot-takers.

But, once again, they win. They get the attention they ordered. Just add it to the list. The hope is that the Patriots can prove them all wrong and advance to the AFC Championship on Sunday.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at