The New England Patriots have largely been on top of the football world for the past 20 years. Needless to say, the 2020 season has been very different than what most Patriots fans are used to experiencing.
On Thursday night, the team fell to 6-7 after being thoroughly beaten 24-3 by the Los Angeles Rams in SoFi Stadium. The opinions and hot takes on the Patriots’ current state and future were not at a shortage.
One of the more interesting and raw perspectives came from the cast on NFL Network.
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NFL Network’s Steve Smith Brings a Prop
Never one to mince words, former Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith, brought a prop to the studio to take a shot at the Patriots on Thursday night. Yes, you guessed it, Smith is saying the Patriots playoff chances are done.
Steve Smith brought silverware.
He says put a fork in the Patriots. pic.twitter.com/y749hV3pGv
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) December 11, 2020
You can get a look at the entire segment in the video below:
Newton Played With Smith in Carolina
For three seasons (2011-13) Smith and Cam Newton were teammates with the Carolina Panthers. When Newton was a rookie, Smith was his top receiver. He found him 79 times for 1,394 yards and 7 touchdowns. The two men were the Panthers’ top stars, but Smith would leave Carolina a bit unceremoniously in 2014 as he was released and called a distraction by some.
Smith quickly signed with the Baltimore Ravens, where he would finish his career. The potential Hall-of-Famer actually spoke with Bill Belichick about possibly joining the Patriots that offseason, but ultimately canceled a recruiting visit because he’d fallen in love with John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome’s pitch from Baltimore.
Smith talked about the call he got from Belichick in the video below during an episode of the Rich Eisen Show in 2019.
Perhaps if that scenario had worked out, Smith might have shown the Patriots a little bit of mercy on Thursday night.
Smith is a Potential Hall-of-Famer in 2021
Smith probably isn’t a favorite of Patriots fans today, but he was a spectacular player in the NFL for 16 years.
He made 1,031 catches for 14,731 yards and 81 touchdowns. Despite his height (5’9″) or lack thereof, Smith was one of the best receivers of the 2000s. He battled the Patriots along with the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII when New England edged Carolina 32-29 in a fantastic ball game.
The most underrated Super Bowl of all time?
After no points in the first 26 minutes, Super Bowl XXXVIII turned into a back-and-forth THRILLER.
— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) January 29, 2019
As crude as Smith’s message was, he’s probably right. The Patriots are now 6-7 and they would need tons of help if they’re going to find a way into the playoffs this season. They have three games remaining, and each of them figures to be tough considering they face division opponents.
On Sunday, the Patriots travel to Florida for a Week 1 rematch with the Miami Dolphins. In Week 16, they meet the Buffalo Bills at home and finish up the season against the winless New York Jets (whom they struggled to beat earlier this season).
Even if the Patriots win out, it’ll be tough to reach the playoffs.