Oh what a difference six days can make! (I started this blog last night then passed out). This time last week the Patriots were 2-5 and in the midst of their longest losing streak since 2002 (still true even with the posting delay). Now they're 4-5 and for the Moment, still very much alive in the AFC playoff hunt.
Obviously 10 weeks into the season you'd prefer to not be below .500 and currently the AFC's 10 seed, but like Thundercat's most recent album It is What It Is.
With SIX teams currently at 6-3, the 7th playoff spot is still potentially there's to take. Sure, the Pats will have to gain two games and leapfrog at least two teams, but with 7 games left I can show you the way the Patriots still make the playoffs. There's still plenty of head-to-head matchups between teams ahead of them. The Titans are in a free fall (1-3 in their last 4) and still have to play the Ravens and Browns, who still have to play the Ravens and Steelers again. The Chiefs and Raiders play next week and the Patriots have the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Vegas/Oakland/L.A. Raiders. Plus the Pats still have to play Buffalo and Miami again and I'm sure there's at least one more head-to-head matchup that I'm missing...like the Colts and Titans 2nd matchup in week 12 and those red hot Miami Dolphins end the season with the Chiefs, Pats, Raiders and Bill. Okay one more, the Steelers and Bills play week 14. You have google access too, ya know?
As ugly as the Pats passing game has looked this year, Cam is 4-4 as a starter and is like four plays from 6-2 or even 7-1, but 4-5 is this team's reality. Given all the obstacles this team has faced this year it could be much worse. They're not 3-6 like most people were expecting!
The playoffs have felt like a formality the last 20 years and honestly it's kind of cool to be in this spot again. If there's one thing COVID has taught us outside of how selfish and stupid most of humanity is; it's that you shouldn't take anything for granted. I can admit I took winning the AFC East every year for granted, hell I haven't bought an AFC East Champs shirt since 2006 and you could argue it was embarrassing back then.
I then tried to move my Tebow eyeblack stickers from the 2008 Thanksgiving Game and ruined this photo from Home-EC of June that same year.
Don't get me wrong, winning Super Bowls is much better than plotting potential playoff paths like some lowly Vikings fan; but for a year or two, sure why not? Sometimes you gotta undercover boss it to remember how life hasn't always been this easy. You need a little rain to appreciate a 20 year double-dynasty.
For the first time in over a decade, the playoffs aren't a sure thing, but it's great to see this team not roll over and die. They're playing competitive football and dare I say could the Patriots be building something? I know Cam is looking like a single-wing tailback out there with 3 touchdown passes in eight starts, but this team has really responded to him as a leader. He's got a lame nickname for everybody on the team and if you can get him an NFL tight end, I say bring Cam back.
Gun to my head the Pats don't make it to the dance, but it's kind of cool for the regular season to matter and to be in this spot for once. It's like the Schitt's Creek of fandom. Had they lost last night I'd say the Pats playoff hopes were JFK dead, but with head-to-heads over the Dolphins (for now), Raiders and Ravens there's a few ways this could actually happen. I haven't even mentioned the potential 8th playoff seed if there's games cancelled due to COVID.
I do think the Broncos loss is going to ultimately cost the Pats the playoffs, but any night you beat the Ravens is a great night (even if you pussied out on Pats ML when you can easily afford to take the risk with the early success of #TooManyLegs) and for now they're still very much alive in the playoff race. I'm just glad this team is playing "meaningful" football which did not seem like something I would've been thinking after the 49ers game.
P.S. Pay J.C. Jackson NOW