We’ve spent the week listening to enough Tom Brady vs Bill Belichick angles that it’s obviously been exhausting, yet at the end of the day, only one thing really matters.
It’s not about any of that.
The bottom line is, the Patriots need this game if they hope to get back on track.
The biggest issue heading into Sunday night isn’t the coach vs player match-up that people are hyping. The simple fact is New England failed to win at least one of the contests they should have won heading into this week. As a result, instead of having their worst-case scenario potentially being a .500 record, they’re now running the risk of dropping to 1-3 and digging a hole that’s going to be tough to battle back from.
With the Bills sitting at 2-1, the Patriots are still well within striking distance of contending for the AFC East. Should they come up short, around the rest of the conference, the AFC West and AFC North each have three teams apiece with winning records within their respective divisions. The good news is, both of those same divisions will still see plenty of in-fighting which could keep things fairly even. The same can be said for the AFC South, which has three teams below .500. With two months left, the door remains open for New England should Belichick’s crew put together a strong enough finish to earn a postseason appearance.
But what happens Sunday night could potentially make that road a little more difficult. A record of 10-6 used to be good enough to possibly earn a playoff spot, but with a 17-game schedule, it’s unlikely that 10-7 would have that same effect. That would mean 11-6 might be the record that replaces it and if that’s the case – and if they were to lose this one – it would require a 10-3 run by his team over the next two months to get there.
The Patriots need to beat Brady to turn their season around. (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)
New England has been fortunate to play three of its first four games at home, but going 0-2 so far in Foxboro has really put them in a bind. Depending on how things shake out during their showdown against the Buccaneers, if it doesn’t go well, Belichick’s crew will have to go on a tear while having to play seven of their final 13 games away from Gillette Stadium.
That’s, well, not ideal. Especially if they’re going to need to win 10 games over that span.
So forgetting everything else, the end result is the fact this is a must-win game that has nothing to do with egos or legacies. This is simply a key game New England needs in order to gain some confidence and start getting things moving in the right direction. If they could pull it off, it might even give themselves a little bit of momentum before they go on the road next weekend to take on a Houston Texans team that has beaten them in each of their last two meetings.
After a tough outing against New Orleans, rookie QB Mac Jones isn’t thinking about anything other than getting an opportunity to potentially lead his team to what would be his second career NFL victory.
“I mean, it’s really just us against the other team, and that’s how it always will be,” said Jones this week. “It’s not like one person versus one person, so I think that a lot of it is 11 on 11, and that’s what goes into it, and that’s how they’re going to look at it. That’s how every team looks at it. It’s just you’re getting a chance to compete in a primetime game, and it just kind of is what it is.”
It should be a tough match-up, but both Belichick and Jones are just treating it as if it’s just another battle against a tough defense with a marquee quarterback. For the rookie, while he knows all about Brady’s history, he’s more focused on making sure that no matter how difficult things get, he has to go out and do whatever it takes to give his club the best chance to win.
“I think it just goes back to really, with pressure, you just got to focus on doing what you’re supposed do, and people who have jobs in high-pressure situations, that’s what they do,” said Jones. “They do their job really well, and they prepare really hard, so it’s all you can control, and once the hay is in the barn, the hay is in the barn, and you just got to go play, and I think everyone will be excited, and we’re just going to be ready to play when it happens.”
For now, Brady’s visit and the match-up against his former club will be the story, but it doesn’t change the fact New England is in the same spot it was a week ago.
They need to start scoring points and they need to get back in the win column.
On the big stage, there’s certainly no time better than Sunday night for Jones and the Patriots to finally play their best football of the season. As we know, winning fixes everything, and all the drama aside, getting back to .500 by pulling off the upset against someone like the Buccaneers would certainly be a great start.
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Season
Tags: Patriots vs Buccaneers