Throughout this season, there was a lot of hype about the Patriots' very tough schedule, and how they were playoff a lot of 2009 playoff teams. Turns out, the 14-2 Patriots played a lot of 2010 playoff teams as well. Six of them, in fact. The results:
- Week Two: 28-14 loss to the New York Jets
- Week Six: 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens
- Week Ten: 39-26 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Week 11: 31-28 victory over the Indianapolis Colts
- Week 13: 45-3 victory over the New York Jets
- Week 14: 36-7 victory over the Chicago Bears
- Week 15: 31-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers
As you can see, the Patriots' only loss to a playoff team came against the Jets on the road. The week two Patriots are a completely different team than the Patriots of week six. And even more different from week ten. In fact, the Patriots' key stretch from weeks ten to fifteen featured four different playoff teams. The Patriots' record: 4-0.
In addition, looking at the landscape of the AFC, the Patriots have played and beaten the #2, #3, #5, and #6 seeds. The only AFC team they haven't beaten is the only one they haven't played: the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots' margin of victory against those four AFC playoff teams: +47 (and that includes the 14 point loss to the Jets in week two).
This is all very impressive stuff. Throw in the fact that the Patriots have beaten the NFC's #2 and #6 seeds in the Bears and Packers, and you've got a very battle tested team heading into the playoffs.