The Patriots have been doing, what they've been doing every season for the last 4 years. Beating up on sh!t teams, and losing to quality teams. Their 2 losses have come against Arizona & Baltimore.. (a combined 7-1 record) ..and that's why these next 3 games are so important. They have a Denver team that seems to be gelling at the right time.. Seattle in Seattle.. and then the Jets. I can actually see them dropping all 3 games, (which, if that happens, kiss the Division goodbye) but going 1-2 seems more likely. The most probable scenario would be losing to the Seahawks, whose defense is ranked 2nd in the league.. (plus it's very hard to win in Seattle) ..and then get picked apart by Denver. Peyton is coming off an 80% comp. percentage performance, and is finding chemistry with his WR's.
This would crescendo into a pissed off Patriots team, coming home to play the Jets, and the Jets getting destroyed by New England.
..why this scenario wouldn't bother me much, is because the Patriots would have to go 8-1 the rest of the way, in order to have a record of 11-5 or greater. Don't get me wrong, New England has shown the track-record in doing something like that. But with the parody in the NFL this year? (nevermind taking into account injuries) Losing only 1 game in the span of 9 is something I don't see as likely. This is why I think a 10-6 record wins the Divison.. and it will take tiebreakers to do it.
The Pats have gone 27-5 the past two seasons in the regular season, and 2-2 in the postseason (including getting to the Super Bowl)...you don't do that strictly by only beating up on sh!t teams. I'll give you that their Super Bowl run last season was a bit fortuitous come playoff time...Denver was not really very good, and Baltimore damned near won the AFC Championship game, and had a golden opportunity to tie that game up after the winning touchdown catch was smacked away. The Patriots have been a bit of a bully-type team at times, and I haven't tried to sugar coat the playoff losses to the Jets or the Ravens...those were brutal losses, especially the Ravens one. And their D hasn't made a big stop in a big spot in a long time...I can list the failures going all the way back to the AFC Championship game against the Colts. The game against the Ravens this season was the latest of these failures.
But yeah, the next three weeks are going to be huge for the Pats and a whole lot of other 2-2 teams. Losing all three probably gives the Patriots a shot at the #5 or #6 seed at best, though like I said, the division just isn't that strong...who out of the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins is good enough to run away with this thing? I can't see any of those teams winning 10 games. Losing two out of three probably won't hurt the Pats too much as far as the division goes, especially if they beat the Jets, but lose to the Broncos and Seahawks. That would give them a 3-2 Conference record and a 2-0 Division record. They'd be 0-2 against the NFC, but if you're going to lose, that's who you want to lose to.
But if they get carved up by Peyton in their own building and lose, or have to rely on Brady having a huge game to beat the Broncos because Peyton's leading his team on drive after drive, then no matter what the Pats do, even if they find themselves 5-2 after seven games, I think they go right back into Pretenderland. They will probably go 5-1 in the division this year, due to the Jets losing two key players, maybe 4-2...can't see them doing worse than that. If they go 4-2 in the division, that means they have to go 6-4 against everyone else, and 8-4 from here on out to get to 10 wins. They're not a lock to do that, but I think they're more likely to do it than the Bills, Dolphins, or Jets are.
And it's not THAT hard to win in Seattle...the Seahawks have gone 4-4, 5-3, and 4-4 there past three seasons, and are 2-0 at home this season. That's 15-11...not bad, especially compared to their road record over the same time period (6-20), but it's not like they're this invincible jaggernaut at home.
Edited by Colorado Rockies 1976, 02 October 2012 - 12:45 PM.