As the New England Patriots’ season started its downward spiral, so did fans’ confidence in the team’s ability to turn things around. SB Nation’s weekly Reacts surveys illustrated this development. While the participants were quite confident in the team coming out of its Week 5 — one that was moved up because of a recent series of Coronavirus cases — that “era of good feelings” lasted only a few days before.
An 18-12 loss against the Denver Broncos and two additional defeats at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills the following two weeks left the team sitting with a 2-5 record seven games into its regular season. Along the way, fan confidence started slipping as well. While it was at 91 percent heading into the game against Denver, it dropped to 58 percent after the game and fell further to 25 and 27 percent the next two weeks.
Since then, however, it has started to bounce back again: with the Patriots registering back-to-back victories over the New York Jets and the Baltimore Ravens in Weeks 9 and 10, the number jumped back up; first from 27 to 35 percent most recently to 71. New England is trending upward, and so is fans’ perception of the team’s outlook.
This week presents a golden opportunity for New England to leave its fans even more satisfied. The Patriots will travel to Houston to take on the 2-7 Texans, a team that has struggled this season and after just four games fired head coach Bill O’Brien. While the club is “only” 2-3 since then, it has not shown an ability to consistently compete against superior competition.
A win is therefore expected from the Patriots, and it is necessary as well: the team is still looking up in both the AFC East and the conference’s playoff picture, with every additional loss lessening its chances of qualifying for the postseason, let alone defending its division crown for a 12th consecutive year. Sunday’s game against the Texans is therefore a must-win for a club that has recently made some major strides on both sides of the ball.
As always, fan confidence is a reflection of this. And if all goes according to plan, it will jump again between this week and next.
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