Despite a rocky start to the season, and some questionable play calling along the way, the New England Patriots are sitting in a playoff spot with one game left in the season. New England toppled Miami 23-21 to end their four-game losing skid against their division rivals. The Patriots can slip into the playoffs with a win against Buffalo in the final game of the season.
Big Time Win
The Patriots have been hanging around the final playoff spot most of the season. They started the season with a loss to this same Dolphins team down in Miami. Every time they would get on a run like when they reeled off three in a row against the Jets twice and the Colts, they would follow it up with tough losses. After the wildest loss of the season to Oakland and a tough loss to Cincinnati, New England looked like they were done. The Patriots rebounded at the right time giving them the inside track going into the final game.
Patriots Still Haven’t Beaten Tua
The Patriots caught a break when Dolphins starting QB Tua Tagovailoa was ruled out for Sunday’s game. Tua has never lost to the Patriots as a starter. He has reeled off four in a row. The tandem of backup quarterbacks, Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson, held their own to keep the game close. It makes one wonder how the Dolphins would’ve fared if Tua were healthy. In the end, the injuries are a part of the game, and New England benefitted this time.
Patriots Play Calling Still Abysmal
While this was a better game than most for the Patriots offensively, the play calling is still atrocious. Mac Jones completed 20 of 33 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. But he was also sacked three times for a loss of 31 yards. The Patriots ran the ball 21 times for a combined 77 yards and no touchdowns. One series featured a run on second and long that caught Miami by surprise to set up third and short. New England followed that up with a poorly called pass play that resulted in one of Mac’s three sacks. In the end, the Patriots still look like they have a defensive minded guy calling offensive plays. The Matt Patricia experiment has failed, and, for Mac Jones‘ sake, I hope it ends after this season.
The final game of the season is pretty simple but won’t be easy. If New England beats Buffalo, they are in the playoffs. That will be easier said than done given that Buffalo is in a close battle with Kansas City and Cincinnati for the lone bye in the AFC. It’s unlikely the Bills will be resting any starters in the final game. If New England loses, they then have to rely on hope. A loss means the Patriots would also need the Dolphins and Steelers to lose to the Jets and Browns, respectively. Those are two big ifs. It’s best to take care of business on the field and not leave it up to chance.
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