The last time I wrote one of these articles, the New England Patriots had just lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and...well, we all know what happened there. No need to relive it again. Since then the Patriots have won seven of their last eight, the only loss being on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. And while losing is never fun, as far as losses go this has been the easiest one to stomach in a long time. Not everything went right, but a lot of things did, and at the end of the day this is really no big deal. Here are five positives that we can take with us leading into the Chargers game.
Affordable Loss. This game carried very little weight in the grand scheme of things. On the road against a non-conference opponent with a comfortable lead in the AFC means that this was a game the Patriots could 100% afford to lose. Obviously, a win would have been nice, but this game represented the most difficult game the Patriots had left, and every game on the slate from here on out is winnable. As long as the Pats do their job going forward, this game isn't going to count for a damn thing. It was incredibly overhyped and overexaggerated, and plus it was a game that the Packers needed more than the Patriots did to stay ahead of the Lions. This win was more or less free money for New England.
Expected Loss. This was also a game that it seems like most of us had penciled in as an L back when the schedule first came out in April. There is absolutely nothing wrong with losing an away game to a white-hot Aaron Rodgers in a stadium where he simply doesn't lose. As Patriots fans, we can all certainly appreciate what it means to be a great quarterback who plays lights out at home, and because of that I don't think there are too many of us who are overly surprised over the result this morning, nor are there many of us who are still grieving over this one. Granted, New England is one of those teams who can always beat any team at any time, but at the end of the day they aren't going to win them all, and this is one of those losses made significantly easier to swallow, as it was more or less expected for months now. I say that the Pats win that game at home, but Lambeau is no joke.
Highly unique skillset. There is one quarterback in the league who is capable of generating a win like the one we witnessed on Sunday, and that's Aaron Rodgers. There simply isn't a QB in the NFL - Tom Brady included - that brings to the table what Rodgers does. Combine that with the fact that the Packers don't lose at home, and it's very easy to be happy with what he was and wasn't able to do on Sunday. The Patriots aren't going to face another quarterback like Rodgers again, and if they do, it will be Rodgers himself on a much more neutral field. No AFC QB can do what he did on Sunday.
Red zone defense. The Packers may have moved the ball well, but New England was lights out in the red zone. Green Bay only scored two touchdowns, one on that crazy Nelson play, and the other from well outside the red zone on of the the best pump fakes you will ever see. Other than that, it was the Mason Crosby show. Most of the time, against this team, when you shut out a team in the red zone, that's a recipe for a W. I'll put this defense up against any offense in the league right now and not think twice about it.
One play decider. This was basically a one play game, when it's all said and done. That Jordy Nelson catch and run for a TD just before the half ended up being the deciding factor in this game; had McCourty just taken a better angle on the reception, I'm not writing this article right now. That's pretty solid when you sit back and look at it: on the road, against one of the best offenses in the NFL, and it all comes down to one play. Of course, all the credit in the world should go to Green Bay, as that's what great teams do; they take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. But if it takes a blown angle and a crazy catch and run right before the half to beat the Patriots at home when you're the best offense in the NFL, I'll take that every day of the week.