By: Mike Saver/Saver-Sports.com
November 08, 2010

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It's understandable for Patriots fans to start worrying after the Patriots just got trounced by the Browns, 34-14. However, despite the final score, New England was still the better team. The loss doesn't change that.

Coming into the game they held the league's best record and had knocked off some of the toughest competition in the NFL - the Ravens, Vikings, Chargers, Dolphins. Getting upset by the Browns doesn't change their standing as one of the top teams in the NFL. If anything, it brings the team back down to earth and sharpens their focus. It's never good to lose a game, but a lot of good can come from this loss.

The Patriots aren't the only team that's been upset by the Browns. Something mentioned all week leading up to the game was how the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints were absolutely dominated by them two weeks ago, 30-17. Drew Brees threw 4 interceptions in that game as the Saints looked nothing like the squad that brought home the Lombardi trophy last year.

Similarly, the Patriots looked nothing like themselves in this game. The Pats have been getting their wins by being the more disciplined football team and eliminating mistakes. Yet with two fumbles in the game - including one that came about on a miscommunication on a kick return - New England looked sloppy.

"We just didn't have a very good day at the office", said Brady after the game. "If we played the way we did today, we're not gonna beat anybody". That's a valuable lesson for a team to learn, especially a group as young as New England. Things aren't going to just be handed to them. A spot at the top could last as short as a week.

A loss like this could serve to galvanize a team and wake them up a little bit. After the Saints' embarrassing loss to Cleveland - they bounced back strong. The next week, they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, probably the best team in the NFL, 20-10. This week they traveled to Carolina and delivered a trouncing, 34-3.

Bill Belichick's teams have always been one of the best in bounce back games - losing back to back games only twice since 2002. While this loss was ugly, it's sure to give the Patriots some extra motivation heading into a tough road game against the Pittsburgh Steelers next week.

The Patriots may have floundered in Week 9, but it's just another serving of humble pie. Expect Belichick to drive that point home to his players and look forward to them bouncing back against the Steelers in Week 10.

Super Bowl Champs That Lost to Bad Teams

With the Patriots getting upset on the road at Cleveland, one can't help but second guess the team. At least just a little bit.

While the Browns may be getting better, they're still in the bottom half of the NFL. When a good team loses to a bad team, the good team is questioned. However, it's worth noting that previous championship teams in New England have been upset as well.

In 2004 the Patriots lost on the road, 29-28, to a Miami team that ended up winning only 4 games that year. The 2003 Pats only lost to sub. 500 teams. They were blown out the first game of the season 31-0 by Drew Bledsoe and the Buffalo Bills - who finished 6-10 that year. Weeks later they fell to a Redskins team that finished that season 5-11.

It's not just New England either. Recent Super Bowl champions who've been upset by bad teams: The '09 New Orleans Saints lost in week 16 to a Buccaneers team that finished the season 3-13. The '06 Indianapolis Colts were upset by the 6-10 Houston Texans at the end of the season.

If all of these teams could fall to bad teams and still win the Super Bowl, I think the '10 Patriots will be quite all right.

Mike Saver is a regular contributor to PatsFans.com and covers Boston Sports for Saver-Sports.com and CelticsLife.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @SaverSports, as well as Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/saversports)


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