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Did The Patriots Blow Their Season By Winning?

Bob George
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December 8, 2023 at 1:30 am ET

Did The Patriots Blow Their Season By Winning?(PHOTO: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Dec 08, 2023 01:30
🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

PITTSBURGH – New plan.  Bailey Zappe starts next year.  First draft pick now becomes a tackle.

It’s hard to believe, based upon what you’ve seen these last several weeks, that you could find a worse offense than the Patriots.  In the first half, that’s exactly what happened.

Zappe threw for three touchdown passes, while Mitchell Trubisky, filling in for the injured Kenny Pickett, looked worse than Bryce Young out there for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Patriots led 21-3 at halftime, then reverted back to being a substandard offense in the second half.  But Trubisky was not able to bring the Steelers all the way back, and the Patriots won their third game of the season, 21-18 at Acrisure Stadium on Thursday night.

Zappe seemed to recapture his 2022 magic, if you will, in that first half.  Finally, you the Patriot fan saw some competent quarterbacking for a change.  Birthday boy Hunter Henry caught two of Zappe’s scoring tosses, and Ezekiel Elliott caught the third.  Zappe looked calm and in control of things out there, even when yards were no longer easy to come by in the second half.  He threw one interception which wasn’t totally his fault, but overall played a solid game, the likes of which nobody had seen all this season.

The Patriots are now 3-10.  Is it time to say goodbye to the top draft pick?

The way Young is playing in Carolina, the Patriots could lose out and still not get a whiff of that top pick (which will go to Chicago through a draft trade).  3-14 would get you a nice high pick nonetheless, but the quality of the pick won’t be exactly what they want.

And if this spawns a win streak…what then?

Win out and go 7-10, now that would be something.  It would also change several narratives, most of which surrounds the future of Bill Belichick.  Mac Jones is almost a certain goner at year’s end.  Zappe had one good game, and he really energized the whole team and not just the offense.  The question is:  do you want Zappe to keep playing at this level and turn the Patriots into a middle of the pack team instead of a bad team that gets to pick high in the draft?

First, let’s get real for a moment.  The Patriots will not run the table.  They have four games left and only one is winnable (season finale against the Jets at home).  They play Kansas City at home next Sunday (flexed out of next Monday), then play at Denver and at Buffalo.  The altitude in Denver will negate any chance to win that game, and the Bills will be bent on revenge at home for the last Patriot win before tonight.  The Patriots will likely finish 4-13 and need to hope that Arizona doesn’t lose out.

Right now, there are five teams with four wins, if that’s how the Patriot season turns out.  Those teams are the Jets, Tennessee, the Giants, Washington and Chicago.  So if they all lose out and the Patriots do beat the Jets in their finale, then tiebreakers would result in the establishment of the draft order.

If the Bears are smart, they absolutely lose out.  They could wind up with two of the first five picks in the draft because they get Carolina’s top pick.  Anyone out there ever hear of Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus?  In 1965 Chicago took Butkus with the third pick and Sayers with the fourth.  Both men are Hall of Famers.  Unfortunately, the Bears played zero playoff games over the careers of these two late NFL legends.  So Chicagoland should not get too fired up over this prospect.

The Patriots are our concern, not Da Bears.

So, what do you the Patriot fan really want now?  After seeing this win tonight, how badly do you want the Patriots to “tank”?  Are you now dreaming of a playoff team next year with Zappe at the helm?  Or are you not worried about the present, as there really is nothing the Patriots can do to avoid going 4-13.

Just go to bed and savor this win.  You may possibly not see one again until 2024.  Then again, the Patriots have to beat the Jets in Week 17.  It’s almost like, how can’t they.

For the record, Zappe finished 19 of 28 passing for 240 yards, three touchdowns, one pick and a passer rating of 115.2.  Madre de Dios.  Elliott had seven catches (one for a touchdown) to lead the Patriots, but JuJu Smith-Schuster had 90 yards on four catches as he came back to bedevil his old team.

Trubisky wasn’t completely awful, it just seemed that way.  He finished with 22 of 35 passing for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception (there was a second nullified by a holding penalty) for a 74.7 rating.  Most of the time the Steeler crowd was booing him, with these menacing looks of disgust written all over their faces.

As previously stated, a week from Sunday the Patriots host the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs at Gillette.  The game was supposed to be next Monday night but got moved back to Sunday.  The defense might play well against Patrick Mahomes, given that he sometimes has had receivers who have the dropsies at the wrong time.  Please don’t make a big deal about whether or not we will have a Taylor Swift sighting.  Just sit back and try to figure out ways that Zappe can score on this Chiefs defense.

Actually, it would be nice for all of us, this writer included, to just enjoy the fact that the Patriots actually won, and not what the ramifications it has on next year.  Yes folks, the Patriots won.  Believe it.

We invite you to catch Bob George’s new Boston Sports Podcast, broadcast every weekday on YouTube. Go to YouTube handle thepic413 to view the podcasts. Please click on the Subscribe button so you don’t miss any of the podcasts.

Six Initial Thoughts After Patriots Beat Steelers Thursday Night

About Bob George

Covering Boston Sports since 1997. Native of Worcester, Mass. Attended UMass and Univ of Michigan. Lives in California. Just recently retired after 40 years of public school teaching. Podcasts on YouTube at @thepic4139

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