New England is headed into the bye week coming off an ugly loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Patriots record has now dropped to 7-3 on the season and they now risk falling into a less than desirable playoff seed. Right now, the Patriots are the fourth seed in the AFC behind the Chiefs (9-1), Chargers (7-2), and Steelers (6-2-1). If the playoffs started today, New England would not have a bye week nor home field advantage. The Patriots have six games left after the bye week and they are in a position where they will most likely need to win all of them in order to jump up into a one or two seed.
Week 12, at New York Jets: The Jets are a very underwhelming 3-7 at the moment, and promising young quarterback Sam Darnold is dealing with an injury. In past seasons, Belichick coached teams have the reputation for destroying young quarterbacks. However, New England has a 2-3 record on the road this season and has looked like a completely different team on the road than at home. In addition to a poor road record, The patriots gave up 31 points to second year quarterback Mitch Trubisky and barely squeaked out a 38-31 road win with the game ending on a Chicago Bears hail mary that fell just one yard short of the endzone.
Prediction: Win, but look for this to be a tough game.
Week 13, Vikings: The Vikings are a respectable 5-3-1 and are a unique opponent for New England. The Vikings have been hot and cold this season, at times looking unbeatable and other times looking very vulnerable. The Vikings’ game this week against Chicago will be very telling of who their team really is as they are getting some players returning healthy.
Prediction: Win, but only because this is a home game. If fields were reversed this would be a Patriots loss.
Week 14, at Dolphins: The Dolphins are 5-5 with new Head Coach Adam Gase and have looked far better this season than last. Despite the Patriots dismembering the Dolphins earlier this season 38-7, Gase will certainly get his players motivated for this divisional home game.
Prediction: Loss, Miami is a much tougher team at home for New England to beat and always plays the Patriots tough in late season games. This fact coupled with the Patriots’ road struggles looks to be shaping up for a loss for New England.
Week 15, at Steelers: The Steelers look to finally have found their identity after all pro running back Le’Veon Bell decided not to play this season. Despite the emergence of young running back James Conner, we have seen the Steelers look high powered before only to lose badly to New England. The Patriots coaching staff has out coached Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his staff time after time in the past. This fuels my belief that the Patriots simply have the blueprint to beat Pittsburg.
Prediction: Win, this will be a must win for New England.
Week 16, Bills: The Bills are in the competition of being the worst team in the NFL and the Patriots rocked Buffalo earlier in the year 25-6. Expect a larger Buffalo defeat as this time they have to come to Gillette Stadium.
Prediction: Win, Buffalo is awful.
Week 17, New York Jets: This week 12 rematch will occur on New England turf and should be a much easier game for the Patriots. The Jets will likely have nothing to play for at this stage in the season.
Prediction: Win, New York will not put up much of a fight in New England.
The Patriots will finish the season 12-4 and likely finish with the second seed in the AFC behind the dominant Kansas City Chiefs who likely will not lose again this season.