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Five positives to take away from Sunday's 24-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Well, I had this one pegged as a loss back before the season even started, so no big deal, right?
In case you didn't notice, I was really, really miffed about Sunday's loss to the Seahawks. It wasn't that they lost as much as it is the way that they lost. Just a bad game all across the board from the coaching staff on down. Plenty of opportunities to put the game away went out the window, and Seattle was good for a long bomb seemingly once every drive. It's one of those losses that just makes you mad that your team so thoroughly deserved to lose a game that they really, really should have won. You'd think that making a rookie quarterback look like a stud is something that I'd be used to by now, and yet here I find myself.
But, I will say that all is not lost. There is still reason for optimism in spite of what really is an embarrassing loss. Here are five positives we can take away from the game.
Non-conference loss. If you're going to take a loss, it's always best to take a non-conference loss. This one isn't going to have much of an impact when it comes to tiebreakers. Of course, the way things are currently playing out, it looks like it is going to take somewhat of a collapse from either Houston or Baltimore for us to secure a playoff bye, but that's looking way too far ahead at this point and there are some very serious issues with this team that need to be corrected. But as far as losses go, this one isn't going to hurt any more than it has to.
4 points. 4 is the number of points the Patriots have lost by combined in 2012. What that basically means is that, in each of their three losses, if just one play had gone differently, they would have won the game. One play. While losing by that little makes the losses three times as nauseating and difficult to take, it also means that this team can hang with anyone in the NFL; they simply haven't gotten any of the breaks they needed to get. Luck is a factor in this league, and New England hasn't exactly had a lot of it so far. But in spite of that, they have been in games right until the very end. With all the talent the Patriots have on both sides of the ball, they'll definitely be able to turn it around.
Easy stretch. The Pats have a slate of very winnable games coming their way over the next few weeks, with the Jets, the Rams, the Bills, the Colts, the Jets, and the Dolphins, with a bye week in there as well. New England should be able to have a good degree of success over the next seven weeks, with excellent opportunity to create some real separation within the division. Obviously, they need to figure out how to stop that highly elaborate and high-percentage "just run deep and I'll huck it up there; you'll either catch it or draw a PI flag" play, or else it won't really matter who they are playing. However, there is a very strong chance that the Patriots can go 6-0 over the next six weeks, which will set them up nicely.
Front seven. The front seven for the Patriots remains solid. Marshawn Lynch was relatively ineffective, and there weren't many completions over the mid-range zones. The bulk of Seattle's yardage on Sunday came off of - shockingly- the big plays downfield where the Seahwaks were able to have tremendous success gaining massive chunks of yards pretty much at will. Almost half of Russell Wilson's yardage came on three plays, and you can't fault the front seven for that.
This was the stinker. I kept telling myself it was Arizona, and that they had already gotten their bad game for 2012 out of the way. But I clearly forgot to take into account the replacement refs and the fact that the first 3 weeks of the NFL it was basically Thunderdome out there. Obviously, THIS was the stinker. Brady played poorly, defense was horrendous, coaching was bad, clock management was off...the team just didn't play well. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, it's time to turn on the afterburners and start playing like they should. The entire AFC is wide open right now, and New England has just as good a chance to go deep in the playoffs as anyone.