Last night the Patriots lost their spot as top seed in the AFC which means home field advantage throughout the playoffs. As we go along in the 2019 season, that appears to be of paramount importance. The Ravens and Patriots are tied record wise at 10-2, with Baltimore holding the tie-breaker over the Patriots (because of their head to head victory). New England would have to run the table the next 4 weeks (do-able, although that means beating KC six days from now, at this point that feels unlikely) and Baltimore would have to drop one.
Remaining schedules for the Patriots and Ravens
Patriots: vs Kansas City, at Cincinnati, vs Buffalo, vs Miami
Ravens: at Buffalo, vs NY Jets, at Cleveland, vs Pittsburgh
Best bet for the Ravens to botch one is this week at Buffalo. Although, the Bills are just a game behind the Patriots for the AFC East. Feels like forever since the division has been in question this late in the season, seems like the Patriots have clinched by Thanksgiving every year.
What a difference a day makes: 24-hours ago, the Patriots were the #1 seed in the east, 2 games up in the AFC East.
Now: The Patriots are in second place in the AFC and lead Buffalo by a game in the East. If the playoffs started today (thank goodness they don’t) as the 2 seed the Pats would get a first round bye (for the 10th year in a row, holy smokes) and likely play Houston or Kansas City in the Divisional round. Then if they could escape they’d have to go to Baltimore for the AFC title game.
I say this every year, but the road to the Super Bowl looks like the Patriots most daunting ever. Two weeks ago, we all thought the AFC was a joke.
How different is last night’s game if Bradley Roby doesn’t pick off Brady in the first quarter? At that point, the Texans hadn’t moved the ball in two drives and the Pats had put together a sustained drive, resulting in points. Then the pick and the Texans scored 21 unanswered points. I wonder how much getting struck with the flu affected the defense?
Silver lining: welcome back James White! Maybe it took going back to the scene of White’s greatest day, but White reclaimed his role as Tom Brady’s second most dependable weapon. It was glaring to see the contrast of Brady throwing more to White today than he has all season and Brady yelling at Meyers to flatten his route along the sideline parlayed with his reluctance to acknowledge N’Keal Harry’s existence after the Roby interception.
(Also, the Patriots were a different hop off the hand of Brandon Bolden from having a shot to win this game in the final 50 seconds. It’s true Houston went Charmin soft during the final 5 minutes, but the Patriots’ offense looked like the Patriots offense, instead of the Michigan Wolverine package they’ve used the last 3 games.)
Should I have bought a new TV on Black Friday or did Tom and Jules dye their hair black? I wasn’t reading Tom’s lips of frustration on the sideline, I was checking out what appears to be a Just for Men job. Can’t you picture Edelman seeing Tom dye his hair in the locker room and ask if he can dye his hair too?
We have to laugh, because if we don’t, we’ll think about losing back to back games in December for the second year in a row.
Of course that turned out ok last year.
BY STERLING PINGREE