One of the overriding questions that other New England Patriots fans ask me is: Do you think we’ll make the playoffs this year?
My answer: I don’t know. I sure hope so, but I just don’t know.
Following are some reasons that we might make the playoffs:
Bill Belichick. Love him or hate him the bottom line is Bill B. is one of the best coaches in the NFL and has made a lot out of little talent in years past, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Granted, Tom Brady has a lot to do with New England sporting 3 Super Bowl rings and appearing in 4 of the last 8 championship games, but we did it one year with third string caliber defensive backs and often with superior game planning.
The Players. Love them or hate them (I know there are a lot of jealous Patriots haters out there), this team has proven to be one of the most resilient groups the past decade. We won a Super Bowl with almost all back up defensive backs. And we made it to an AFC Championship game that we barely lost to the Colts with recievers like Reche Caldwell who can barely hang on and make a roster, a running back who was hurt and ran tentatively, and a solid but exhausted defense.
The Schedule: Even though the schedule of some other AFC teams that don’t appear to be too tough, on the face of it the New England schedule is not too tough either.
The Fall of the Mighty: A year ago who would have thought that San Diego would have a losing record and Indianapolis would have a 3-3 record, while the Tennesse Titans are undefeated and the Buffalo Bills are 5-1. Crazy!
But then again, there are lot of reason the Patriots may not make the playoffs:
Matt Cassel. While the Patriot’s offensive woes are not all his fault, Cassel is no Tom Brady and is clearly too indecisive in the pocket leading to sacks and negative plays in the passing game.
The Offensive Line: The OL that protected Brady so well last year seems to be out to lunch this year. Some of the time Cassel has no prayer out there.
Injuries: Tom Brady. Enough said, right?
Well it gets worse. We start out the season with 5 running backs but now Maroney is on IR. Sammy Morris is reportedly out 3 to 4 weeks. LaMont Jordan is still out with a calf injury. So we are left with rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis (what the hell kind of name is that?) and the fullback Heath Evans. Uh oh. Load up the box and watch Cassel throw a number of interceptions defenses! Enough said, right?
Well, it gets worse again. The heart and soul of the defense, Rodney Harrison is now out for the season and undoubtedly will call it a career.
This does not bode well. There are only so many injuries a team can take. I love the plug the next guy in concept but sooner or later the drop in talent and experience gets to be too much.
Defensive Backs: Ellis Hobbs and Deltha O’Neal have NOT had good seasons so far. Hopefully we can get a good pass rush like we did against Denver in the rest of our games to take the pressure off these two vulnerable CBs.
What will happen now? Will we make the playoffs or not Doug?
Let’s conceded that Buffalo, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh will win their divisions and either Denver or San Diego will win the AFC West. I looked at the schedules of the remaining competive teams, including Denver and San Diego and here is how I see it likely shaking down record wise at the end of the season.
COLTS: 10-6 (go on a roll and beats the Patriots because of Manning/Colts WRs versus our DBs)
CHARGERS: 10-6 (lots of talent and weak schedule)
DENVER: 10-6 (vulnerable but will put up wins)
PATRIOTS: 9-7 (maybe 10-6 if we can beat the Colts or Steelers)
JETS: 9-7 (but Patriots sweep series)
JAGUARS: 9-7 (I am dissing on them here)
RAVENS: 7-9 (OUT)
BROWNS: 6-10 (OUT)
So, that puts either the Chargers or the Broncos winning the AFC West with one of them winning a Wild Card spot. Two Wild Card spots left.
Colts will get one and…THE PATRIOTS!!! YES!!! We make it. (I hope)
But…we need to beat a good team and not lose to a sorry one to get to 10-6 to ensure it, but even a 9-7 just might eek out a spot.
What do you think?