The New England Patriots lost at home last Sunday coming off a defeat the previous week. How unusual is that?
Since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady started working together in 2001 as head coach and starting quarterback respectively, the Patriots had won 52 of 65 games following a loss before last Sunday’s 23-16 setback to the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium. Now we are really in uncharted territory, the Patriots on a two-game losing streak.
How have they done after two losses since 2001?
They have had 10 games following a pair of losses in the Brady/Belichick era, and they have won nine of those games with a 7-3 point spread record. It is interesting to note that their only straight-up loss and all three negative point spread decisions have come on their home field. On the road, as a favorite, like they are Sunday in Cincinnati, they are 3-0 both straight-up and against the spread.
So, bet on the Patriots this week?
No … but it would have been a good idea to bet on them in the position they find themselves this week for the past 18 seasons. Problem with that thinking is that winning in the NFL does not rely on what happened before, but much more importantly, what we can expect to happen in the future based on past results.
In football, results don’t always just repeat, but do consistently land on what prior results feed for future final scores.
While the Patriots relinquished the top seed in the AFC a couple weeks ago with their loss to the Houston Texans, coupled with an earlier season defeat to the top seed Baltimore Ravens, New England would now have to win out and hope the Ravens lost at least two of their final three games to recapture the top seed in the American Football Conference.
The Patriots losing playoff position in December is like Santa Claus forgetting that he has to go to work on Christmas Eve. If he forgets, there are going to be a lot of disappointed kids on Christmas morning, and while I think that is unlikely, I’m betting there are going to be a lot of disappointed fans in Foxboro very, very soon.
New England’s fall from the top is not without good reason. The team has known they are short a deep threat all year, that is why they took a risky flyer on baggage heavy Antonio Brown on the heels of him messing with Oakland all summer after wearing out his welcome in Pittsburgh last year. Brady is still short on offensive weapons, and the best quarterback of all time is not fending off age as he has for so many years gone by.
How else could one explain how the veteran signal caller got shutout of the endzone on his last drive on Sunday in the home loss to Kansas City? The Chiefs are not known for their defense, and still they were good enough to prevent the Patriots from scoring a tying touchdown late after a run by Brady had set New England up with a first down in the redzone.
What we have here is a Patriots team that has been carried most of the season not by Brady and his undermanned offense, but by the prowess of a suddenly rock solid defense. How did the Patriots defense suddenly become their strength?
I don’t know, but I do see that in recent weeks the reason for New England’s success has sprung a leak, with the Patriots allowing 37, 28 and 23 points in recent losses to the Ravens, Texans and Chiefs. There was a time, not so long ago, that those point totals could have been overcome by Brady and his offense.
So, take the Patriots stats from the past and discard them in favor of what we have in front of us right now … no more than an above average New England squad.
Fortunately, they don’t have to worry this week, because they are playing a team that has only one win all season, the Bengals. But, therein lies another big problem for Brady and company, they don’t have an opponent that can incite them to play above their talent level, and their current talent is not capable of covering a big spread on the road.
The Bengals get a huge surprise this week … they upset the overrated Patriots … if not straight up, at least with the benefit of the generous point spread.
Qoxhi Picks: Cincinnati Bengals (+8½) over New England Patriots