The New England Patriots entered the 2020 season coming off 11 straight division titles and postseason appearances. However, they will now accomplish neither: after already seeing the Buffalo Bills earn the AFC East crown, the Patriots’ 22-12 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 15 also officially eliminated from playoff contention.
New England’s hopes of sneaking into the tournament were slim to begin with following a disappointing 24-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams a week ago. After that defeat and the rest of Week 14’s games, the Patriots had only a 2 percent chance of ultimately earning one of the three wild card berths in the AFC.
The question was therefore rather when, not if, Bill Belichick’s team would be eliminated.
The answer came on Sunday in Miami. With the Patriots getting beaten by their division rivals, they no longer have a path to the playoffs — thus ending an impressive streak of postseason appearances that began in 2009 and saw the organization reach five Super Bowls, winning three of them.
The great offseason exodus earlier this year in combination with the Coronavirus pandemic, however, left the team ill-equipped to add another playoff run to its résumé this century. As a result, the Patriots will miss the postseason in Year One after Tom Brady — just like they did the last time the team had to play without him after a torn ACL suffered during the 2008 season opener. Back then, New England went 11-5 and lost on a tiebreaker.
This year, the 6-8 team is further away from the top of the division and the rest of the playoff field as well.