Well, that didn’t last long, did it?
You’re in before this week, then you’re out after the week is over. Truthfully, few probably expected the New England Patriots to be in the hunt for a playoff spot, much less actually remain IN that hunt at this stage of the season, considering the schedule that lies ahead.
But that’s the beauty of the present-day National Football League. Some days, you just don’t know what fortune will bring. I mean, how else does Cleveland beat Tampa Bay? Or how does Mike White earn a starting job at QB for the J-E-T-S, then proceed to blow away the Chicago Bears with 315 yards passing and three touchdowns in a 31-10 beatdown?
It’s called “opportunity,” in case you were wondering. When presented with opportunity, anything can (literally) happen. This is what the Patriots have this week.
They have an opportunity to remain firmly in contention for the postseason. They have an opportunity to take down perceived AFC East divisional giant Buffalo – even if Miami currently holds a better record and standing. They have an opportunity to prove naysayers wrong and to prove to themselves they’re worthy of the moment.
Even though absolutely NOTHING happened over the holiday weekend to help the Patriots with their cause:
- Dolphins won to get to 8-3
- Bills won to get to 8-3
- Jets won to get to 7-4
- Bengals won to get to 7-4
- Chargers won to get to 6-5
Sure, New England can beat Buffalo Thursday night. But the question of “will they?” persists.
The Bills are favored to win at Gillette Stadium – a rare place for the Patriots to find themselves at home in the role of an underdog. And while New England has had good success in this unfamiliar place during Bill Belichick’s reign as head coach (15-4 against the spread as a home dog), the team is only 3-2 as a home dog without TB12 running the show at QB.
They’re 0-1 this season at Gillette when they aren’t favored.
The truth is, almost no one has favored them to beat the behemoths on their schedule, much less contend for a playoff berth. But that’s what is at stake this week against the Bills. It’s their moment in the spotlight, and a chance to remain relevant within present-day NFL hierarchy.
Buffalo remains a postseason contender. They’re still high among the candidates for ‘King of the Hill’ in the AFC. Can New England win the moment, and answer the challenge?
Can they even force the Bills to punt the football? That would be a start and an improvement over a year ago. Opportunity is knocking, and it won’t last long.
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by Full Press Coverage on January 29, 2023 at 11:25 am
Fool me once…
Yes, Hunter Henry had his hand under the ball. Not sure what else a receiver needs to do to score a touchdown, other than what he did against Minnesota. Probably time to let it go.
But the game Thanksgiving night wasn’t lost on the officials’ crazy decision to call back what was obviously a touchdown…at least obvious to most observers outside of Minnesota.
The Patriots still shoot themselves in the foot way too often. Six more penalties, 55 more yards in walk-offs. Add to that the growing number of negative offensive plays the Patriots have had on that side of the ball (at least nine, including penalties, by this count Thursday) – it’s a wonder they know how to move the ball forward at all.
Discipline. They lack it. And time is running short.
Fool me twice…
The Patriots couldn’t achieve their most basic defensive goal against the Vikings, either. That is, they couldn’t contain Justin Jefferson.
Three catches on their opening touchdown drive? What, did the New England defense forget he would be an integral part of Minnesota trying to score?
Jefferson’s performance, and then that of Adam Thielen on the game-winning drive, was a black mark on a fairly spotless slate against a Patriot defense that has kept the team in games thus far. Minnesota completed 81.6% of its passes against a Bill Belichick defense.
That’s the second-highest total, ever, according to ESPN.
Last, but not least
- Is anyone buying stock in Zach Wilson‘s chances of remaining the “future” at quarterback for the J-E-T-S?
- Couldn’t someone simply reach over to a snoring Odell Beckham, Jr. and asked him to buckle his seatbelt without having to pull everyone off of his plane? Or maybe buckle it for him?
- Think Denver’s Russell Wilson and Mike Purcell will be exchanging Christmas cards this year?
- How happy must the Jacksonville Jaguars be that they no longer have Urban Meyer kicking them around?
- Tampa Bay, and Tom Brady, lost in overtime to Cleveland and have a losing record. But they remain in first place in the NFC South.
- Think Buffalo is still savoring their “Hang it in the Louvre” game against the Patriots last season? Seven possessions, seven touchdowns. How easy will it appear to be this time around?