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Patriots Struggling on the Road Against Quality Opponents

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The Patriots haven't been able to find success against top teams on the road. They need to fix that problem quickly.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

We are going to use 2009 as our start point of data collection. It's a little over five seasons ago, it's the year Tom Brady returned from injury, and the Patriots didn't lose on the road in 2007.

So let's look at how the Patriots have fared on the road (including the playoffs) since Tom Brady returned in 2009- and see why the road troubles are real.

Between 2009 and 2013, the Patriots have a record of 24-17 on the road- a .585 record, which translates to a 9-7 season.

There have been 13 games against teams that ended up in the playoffs and 28 against teams that did not. The Patriots have a weak 3-10 record against the quality teams and a stellar 21-7 record against the weaker teams. This is a better barometer of quality than looking at games against teams who made the playoffs in the prior season.

There were 13 games against teams that had been in the playoffs the prior season and the Patriots posted a 6-7 record, versus a 18-10 record against teams that didn't make the prior playoffs. Over the past three seasons (2012-2014), the Patriots are 3-4 against teams that made the prior playoffs, with all three coming in 2013 against the Falcons, Ravens, and Texans.

What should be more concerning is that the Patriots are on a 1-6 streak against teams between 2011-2013 against teams that ended up in the playoffs- with that lone victory coming against Tim Tebow and the Broncos.

The good news is that the Patriots take care of business on the road against the non-playoff teams; since 2011 the Patriots have three road losses to teams that didn't make the playoffs and they're all against divisional foes (one to each of the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins). The trend looks to continue this season if the Chiefs can make the playoffs and if the Dolphins are forced to stay at home.

The Patriots will need to shake their road woes this Sunday against the Colts- a team that made the playoffs last year and are a lock to make it this season. A victory here would be the first on the road against a playoff team since 2011 and would solidify New England as a threat no matter where the road through the playoffs happens to lead.