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‘It’s a one-game season’ for the Patriots even after beating the Cardinals

Related: Patriots vs. Cardinals: New England’s defense shuts down Arizona in 27-13 victory

NFL: New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are back above .500, and back in the playoff picture, thanks to their win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. The 27-13 victory was a much-needed one to keep the team’s postseason hopes in a realistic state — and the first of several others that will be needed down the stretch.

Fact is, after all, the Patriots’ 7-6 record is tied with two other teams’ also in contention for the final wild card spot in a highly competitive AFC. Drop one game, and your outlook might change dramatically.

New England’s players know this, and in fact have embraced the nature of the situation they find themselves in.

“One game at a time. It’s a one-game season,” said center David Andrews on Monday. “There’s going to be a lot of change over these four weeks, and for everybody. That’s just how it goes. You start looking at that stuff, start focusing on that and you’re going to let something slip away. A one-game season, that’s how you have to look at it.”

The Patriots’ four-contest slate to end the regular season will be one of the most challenging in the league, featuring three games against teams currently ahead of them in the AFC standings. Before those matchups against 9-4 Cincinnati, 8-5 Miami and 10-3 Buffalo, however, New England will travel to Las Vegas.

While the game against the 5-8 Raiders will not be a true must-win — New England will not be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss — it does again come very close. Just ask Matthew Judon.

“Every week is 1-0. Every week,” the Pro Bowl linebacker said. “That’s what we have to focus on and that’s what we have to harp on.”

His running mate powering the Patriots’ pass rush, Josh Uche, shared a similar thought after the Cardinals game.

“We’re focused on the next game and we’re going to handle [playoff positioning] when we handle that,” he said.

Right now, the goal for New England is simply building some consistency and in turn generating some momentum toward a potential playoff push — something the team did not do a good job of last year. The 2022 version of the Patriots is, for better or worse, different than last year’s and every outcome is still on the table.

In the end, it’s all about peaking at the right time as David Andrews said.

“I’ve been on teams that have struggled toward the end, and I’ve been on teams that crescendoed toward the end,” the team captain pointed out. “You want to make sure you’re trying to do that. That’s what we’re trying to do here. ...

“We’ve got four opportunities now guaranteed left with this team, and it’s a fleeting thing so you have to take advantage of all of them. It feels good to come in here and get the win, and obviously got a big one coming up here against Las Vegas.”