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Quick-hit thoughts on the Patriots’ 34-33 loss against the Dolphins: New England isn’t dead yet

After a heartbreaking loss in Miami, it’s worth remembering the Patriots are still in good shape.

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Today isn’t a normal quick-hit thoughts article. Full disclosure, I was at a Christmas party with my kids during most of the game, and just couldn’t sit through that game and take notes like I usually do. I’ve watched most of it, and might have something else on the game later in week, but for today, I decided to write about why the Patriots are not screwed, and, what we’ve seen so far from them may not really tell us what type of team they have.

First off, I’m sure that most fans, like me, are simply upset about this loss. So many mental mistakes and coaching errors. How does Brady take a sack at the end of the half? Did he really not know they had no timeouts left? Why did Belichick put in Rob Gronkowski on the last play of the game? And why did they rush four and not have five guys back around the 20? These are all very relevant and important questions about incredibly uncharacteristic mistakes by the Patriots.

But, while I might talk about that another time, I’m not going to try to answer those questions right now. Instead, I’m going to talk about why the Patriots aren’t screwed, and why we may not have as much to worry about as their performance today may lead us to believe. First, look at the games they’ve lost, other than the Bills and Jets, their four losses may be against the worst teams they’ve played this season. Any time they’ve played a good team, they’ve risen to the occasion and played well, or at least good enough to win.

They have wins against the Texans, Colts, Chiefs, Bears, and Vikings. All of those teams are either in the playoffs or fighting for a playoff spot. It reminds me of the Celtics a year or two ago, when they seemed to always lose against bad teams and beat good teams. They were playing down to competition. Maybe the Patriots are falling into those same traps. It’s out of the ordinary for a Bill Belichick coached team, but it’s possible. They won’t be playing any bad teams in the playoffs, so the hope is that they’ll be hyper focused, and win those games.

Next up, the #1 seed is pretty much gone. The Chiefs held on and beat the Ravens, so they have a two-game lead on the Patriots with three games to go. Highly doubtful that the Patriots get to the top seed in the AFC. However (*Stephen A. Smith voice*), the team with the #1 seed will more than likely have to play against the Chargers in the divisional game. They are one of the hottest teams in the league, and I’d much rather be playing the Texans, who I think the Patriots pretty much own, than the Chargers. Also, the Chargers have a much better chance than the Texans to knock off the Chiefs, which would put the AFC Championship Game in Foxboro, assuming they beat the Texans of course.

Lastly, a loss like this is one that can galvanize a team. Does it remind me of 2015, when they blew the last two games, one against the Jets and one against the Dolphins? Yes, but those were totally different circumstances. Remember, the Patriots won the toss in OT against the Jets and decided to kick off and lost that game, and then they decided to run with Stephen Jackson about 25 times against the Dolphins, and lost. They then, of course, went on to lose to the Broncos in Denver. This isn’t the 2015 season though. Hopefully this team bounces back from this loss and uses it as a point of motivation moving forward.

Although they didn’t show it this week, this team has the skill and talent on both offense and defense to go far. Just take a look at the rankings on Pro Football Focus. There are certainly areas of concern, which I’m sure you’ll be hearing and reading about all week, but this team still has the potential to be playing in February.

Pat is the host of The Patriot Nation Podcast

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Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Sunday, December 9, 2018