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Belichick’s Patriots Can’t Afford Any Moral Victories Tonight Against Cardinals

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
December 12, 2022 at 12:52 pm ET

Belichick’s Patriots Can’t Afford Any Moral Victories Tonight Against Cardinals(PHOTO: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 3 minutes

The New England Patriots spent yet another NFL Sunday idle ahead of Monday Night’s showdown in Arizona, with Bill Belichick’s football team now finding itself in a tough spot.

The Patriots remain in the playoff hunt after getting some help on Sunday from the Buffalo Bills, who took care of the New York Jets during a slugfest in Buffalo.  Quarterback Mike White took some vicious shots during New York’s 20-12 loss, which at least worked in New England’s favor in the AFC Playoff Picture.

Unfortunately, the Patriots didn’t get any help from Miami after the Dolphins fell to the Chargers 23-17 on Sunday Night Football.

However, a win tonight moves New England ahead of both clubs for the AFC’s 7th playoff seed, with the Patriots holding the edge over New York in the tie-breaker thanks to the fact they swept the Jets this season.  They also currently have a better Conference record than Los Angeles.

But a loss would certainly complicate things.  As it is, it’s already starting to look like 10-7 may again be what it takes to be among the final teams standing, and the road beyond this week remains a tough one.  Next Sunday, it’s on to Las Vegas against Josh McDaniels and the Raiders, and then home for two straight games at Gillette Stadium against Cincinnati and Miami.

We all know how Belichick has fared against former coaches, and if you’ve seen how the Bengals are playing, that’s a match-up that definitely looks daunting.

Despite losing to the Chargers Sunday night, it’s hard to feel like a rematch against the Dolphins would turn out in New England’s favor, albeit this one would at least be at Gillette Stadium.  But anyone hoping for a little redemption to close things out in Buffalo probably has a little extra doubt, especially considering how tough the Jets played them, yet they still came up short.

Needless to say, the road to the finish line is not going to be an easy one.

Tonight’s game, at least on paper, is probably the most manageable.  The Cardinals are among the worst in the NFL, both offensively and defensively, and the game is also going to be played indoors in a comfortable environment.  As we saw in Minnesota, that worked in the Patriots’ favor and led to one of the best statistical performances of the season for Mac Jones, although that didn’t carry over into last week’s game against the Bills.

That has them currently on a two-game losing streak, which has erased any margin for error they had left.  There’s no more room for moral victories, and it’s probably safe to say their backs are up against the wall in a game that they absolutely can’t afford to lose given what’s ahead.

As it is, they head into tonight with some difficult personnel issues.  They’ll again be going up against an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, and they’ll have to do it for the second-straight game without Jalen Mills.  Mills missed last week with a groin injury, and it left them short-handed in dealing with Stephon Diggs, who ran rampant through their secondary while catching 7 passes for 92 yards, along with a touchdown.

On the offensive side of the football, the situation is even a little more dire.  They’ll be without Jakobi Meyers, who suffered a concussion late in the game by Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who was fined for the hit.  They’ll also be without Isiahah Wynn, who is dealing with a foot injury.  That leaves them thin again on an offensive line that still has Trent Brown battling an illness, while Yodny Cajuste is fighting through both a calf and back injury.

Damien Harris was also listed as doubtful for this game, which will likely see another busy night for Rhamondre Stevenson, who carried the load last Thursday against the Bills.

As a result, it’s a tough situation with quite a bit on the line.

For now, one thing is pretty clear.  If they win, they’ll remain in control of their own destiny.  If they come up short, it would be their first three-game losing streak since 2020 and would put them one step closer to having to turn the page to 2023.

Belichick said earlier this week that they’re still looking for consistency, which has obviously been a struggle all season.

“Success comes through consistency,” said Belichick.  “That’s really what we’re trying to build towards always. More consistency, more production, and we’ll continue to try to work towards that.”

For a game that has suddenly become the biggest one of their 2022 season, let’s hope they find some of that tonight.

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About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for PatsFans.com, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.


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