Tom Brady has thrived with the Bucs, leading Tampa Bay to the NFC Championship game. Meanwhile, Bill Belichick and the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons. Peter King and Mike Florio discuss whether Brady has come out on top after their breakup.
MIKE FLORIO: "PFT" on Yahoo Sports, Peter King, Mike Florio. Big stories in the National Football League, none bigger right now than Tom Brady back in the conference championship round. Nine of the last 10 years he's played at this level, but for the first time, not as a member of the New England Patriots. The Patriots this year didn't even make it to the playoffs. Does that mean that Tom Brady has won, air quotes, won the divorce with Bill Belichick?
PETER KING: You know, that's for history to judge. And it's going to have to be 10 years down the road, not 10 weeks. Every week during the season there would be some column or two saying that, well, Belichick won it. And that's because the Patriots just killed somebody that week, and Brady threw a couple of picks, and Tampa Bay lost.
And I think there's this underlying thought, Mike, that if Tom Brady never left New England, that the Patriots would still be in their glory days. I mean, the Patriots finished last year four and five, a justifiable four and five, could do nothing against Tennessee in the playoff game. And I feel pretty sure that they would have been closer to the Cam Newton Patriots of 2020 than the Tom Brady Patriots of past years for a very simple reason.
The skilled players on the Patriots are among the worst in the league. You can't play football by yourself. And Bill Belichick, the general manager, and the personnel director, and the draft czar, has been crappy. So that's why they got the divorce in the first place.
And if you want to say to Brady after winning two straight road playoff games wins the divorce, well, this week, I guess he does. Let's see what happens over a two or three year period.
MIKE FLORIO: And amazing to think he's going for three straight road playoff games. And if he wins, he gets to play the Super Bowl at home for the first time ever, even though it's a new home for him, capping the year possibly with that Super Bowl in Tampa.
Look, it's not going to be an easy answer, like you said. It depends on how many more years Tom Brady plays and what the Buccaneers, or whichever team he may play for in the future, does, as he continues to go age 44, age 45. And who knows, he may go past age 45 at this point. I've seen no slippage at all.
The Patriots need a quarterback, first and foremost. But you're right. They wouldn't have been a playoff team with Tom Brady this year. They don't have the weapons. The team wasn't good enough. Tom Brady isn't that dramatically better than Cam Newton that it would have made a difference if he would have stayed. So it was good for both sides. And so far, it's been better for Tom Brady.
PETER KING: And you know, the other thing, Mike, is I think it was pretty logical to think that unless Tom Brady's right arm fell off between March and September, that there's a very good chance that Tampa was going to have a better year then New England. I kept saying to people, I pick the Bucks to be a very good team this year. As a matter of fact, I picked them to go to the Super Bowl.
But the point-- and this is not to say, hey, look at how smart I am. But look at what the Bucs were. You know what Bruce Arians said to me last March? He goes, we're a really good team right now. We've just got to be-- we got to stop turning it over. And the point is, Mike, they were 7 and 7 going into play two home games against lesser teams, Houston and Atlanta, entering the last two weeks of last season.
They should have finished 9 and 7. But Jameis Winston threw six picks in the last two weeks. They lost both games. So Tom Brady was not coming to an empty cupboard.
MIKE FLORIO: Yeah, you're absolutely right. And he may face Jameis Winston twice per year next year, as the Saints quarterback if it plays out that way. And Winston, the guy who came out of the divisional round game with the perfect passer rating, just a little footnote to the win that catapulted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFC Championship game, the Bay of Pigs this weekend.
Tom Brady, if he gets to the Super Bowl, I think a lot of people are going to say he definitely won the divorce with Bill Belichick. But as Peter says, more chapters to be written, and we'll continue to be covering it all here at "PFT" on Yahoo Sports. Thanks for some of your time. We'll see you.