The unprecedented season of Coping With Loss articles rages on.
I’m writing a record eighth one of these, and it’s a loss that knocked the Patriots out of playoff contention with two full games still on the calendar. How am I supposed to spin this one? Are there any positives left at this point for us all to take away from this lates disaster?
Yes, actually. And here are five of them.
Good, to be honest. I for one was getting sick and tired of waiting for the inevitable. We all realized pretty early on that the 2020 Patriots weren’t going anywhere, but we were all deluding ourselves into think that they would get hot late or figure it out or sneak into the playoffs and make a run and all that good stuff. Now that that’s over, it kind of feels like we can all exhale. It’s been kind of like waiting for a sick pet to finally die — you knew it was coming, and there’s always that glimmer of hope that Rusty will make a miraculous recovery, but when it’s over your sadness is mixed with genuine relief. Better end it now rather than to have your heart broken at the last minute of Week 17.
The Patriots deserved to lose. This wasn’t one of those last-minute heartbreaker games where New England had a chance to win it late. They weren’t the victims of some unlucky breaks or blown calls. They just once again lost to a better team and didn’t deserve the W. I also imagine we all more or less expected this one, as a) it’s in Miami, where they always lose anyway, and b) the Patriots played so horribly last Thursday night there wasn’t all that much confidence going in. No teasers going on here, New England was on the right end of this game based on how they played.
It’s not like they were going anywhere anyway. I’ll admit that there’s always that puncher’s chance, and any team that makes the playoffs can go on a crazy run and upset some contenders. But was that really going to happen with this team? Highly unlikely. So now they’re guaranteed their highest draft stock in forever, and we don’t really have to worry about getting our hopes up just to have them ruined by a 50-0 KC blowout.
Extra offseason prep. Bill Belichick has said multiple times that playing deep into January really puts you behind the eight ball in terms of scouting prospects, targeting free agents, and everything else that goes into building a team for the following season. The rest of the league almost always has almost a full month head start on the Patriots every January...but not this year. This year, the front office can turn their sights to the offseason before the regular season is even over. That extra time is going to prove invaluable in terms of figuring out which D-II defensive back the Patriots will be selecting in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Spoiler! Do you know how long it’s been since New England has been able to embrace the role of spoiler? The Colts were still in the AFC East, I can tell you that much. Spoiler isn’t a role you want to find your team playing each and every season, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to seeing if the Pats can screw with Buffalo’s playoff seeding a little bit with a win on Monday night. Then in a perfect world, they’d lose to the Jets to close out the season and officially cost them Trevor Lawrence. I don’t think I can bring myself to ever actively root for a Patriots loss, particularly to the Jets...but man would that be something.