With Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots dropped to 9-5 on the year, fell behind the Texans in the playoff seedings, and lost their second game in a row. Given how they lost the week before, on a last-second miracle in Miami, you’d think the team would want to exorcise those demons with a convincing win today. Not the case, and the Patriots are likely going to be playing on Wild Card Weekend for the first time in forever.
But fear not; all is not lost in New England. And only in New England is hosting a playoff game during Wild Card Weekend some kind of disgrace. But here are five positives we can all take away from this game.
Steelers were due. When you’re 11-2 against the Steelers and are winners of the last 7 straight, you’re going to drop one eventually. And in the grand scheme of things, I’d rather the Steelers get theirs now, during the regular season, than when the game really matters. The Patriots aren’t going to beat the Patriots every single time – they don’t beat any team every single time – and with this 2018 team being so wildly inconsistent, it makes all the sense in the world that a Steelers team fighting for its playoff life would finally break the losing streak.
Expected loss. I don’t know about any of you, but I had this game pegged as a loss when the schedule first came out. Having to travel to Pittsburgh right on the heels of the house of horrors that is Miami just felt like too much for this team to handle, especially a mentally weak team like the 2018 Patriots. I initially had the team going 12-4 when the schedule first came out, with a win coming at Detroit, but that’s why we watch.
Playoffs still all but guaranteed. This is a very weird year, especially in the AFC, and all you need to do is make the postseason to have a legitimate shot at a deep playoff run. It’s definitely a blow to have lost the inside track to a first round bye, and this team’s road performance in 2018 should leave you highly skeptical as to whether or not the Patriots have a legit shot in the divisional round (which would likely be against Houston) – but the Patriots are still going to win the AFC East and host at least one playoff game.
Home games left. The reason the Patriots are going to win the AFC East is because they close out the year at home. Yeah, they STINK on the road, but they’re very solid at home. Combine that with games against the hapless Bills and Jets, and 11-5 should be how this team finishes. A two game win streak to take into the playoffs could go a long way.
First world problems. Here’s what everyone is so bummed about today: no first overall seed, no first round bye. Think about that. We’re so spoiled as fans that we’re pissed off about potentially watching this team play an extra game hosting a Wild Card team BEFORE THE FULL PLAYOFF PICTURE HAS EVEN CRYSTALIZED. Remember how excited the Bills were last year just to make the playoffs? Or how excited their fans were? I’m going to take this time to remind you that the Patriots have won five Super Bowls this century, and anything else they do at this point is just gravy. So they lost – who cares? There are plenty of teams who would consider 9-5 and a great shot at a division title one of the most successful seasons in memory. So let’s all suck it up and continue to enjoy these Tom Brady games while we still can.