Judging the New England Patriots is one of the toughest things to do. When you have blind faith and just believe that things will work out despite all the evidence pointing to the contrary, you feel stupid as things blow up in your face. However, when you start to think logically and realize that betting on the Patriots just because they are the Patriots is kind of dumb, they win and rub your face in it. It's a tough situation to be in as a fan. I'm constantly twisting myself into a pretzel about what I actually SHOULD believe.
With all of that said, I really tried not to jump off a cliff after last week's debacle against Denver. The rest of the world was declaring the Patriots dead, which we've seen time and time again. Don't get me wrong, the loss to the Broncos was one of the grossest performances these eyes have ever witnessed. I just couldn't decide it was over after one bad performance this year, though.
The big problem is, I'm tortured by the truth that is starting me in the face. I'm depressed when I look at the roster and see a total lack of talent. I feel hopeless when I realize that for whatever reason, Bill Belichick has chosen not to spend the money we have free and instead insists on forcing N'Keal Harry, Sony Michel and Ryan Izzo down our throats. Can I let go and give up? No. I can't. I said at the beginning of the season that I would have blind faith until I found a reason not to have it anymore. I'm not there yet, but here's where things get real.
This weekend is essentially the season. I'm sorry, it just kind of is. You simply cannot go 2-4 and head into November three wins behind Buffalo in the division. At that point, you'd be heading up to Orchard Park to play a team of guys that would smell blood in the water. We can argue about whether or not the Bills would have the killer instinct to basically clinch the division then, but regardless, you can't put yourselves in that position. After that, the Pats get a layup against the Jets but then face Baltimore, Houston, Arizona, both LA teams, Miami and Buffalo again before one last meeting with the Jets to close the season. That's no piece of cake. In fact, we are known to have the toughest schedule in the league.
At some point, you can't keep having moral victories. It's no good to get CLOSE versus Seattle or Kansas City anymore. When you lose a clunker at home to the Broncos (without Von Miller, Melvin Gordon and Courtland Sutton), you've officially taken yourselves out of that spot where you can afford losses. You have to now beat teams that you aren't supposed to. At the very least, you have to beat teams that matchup evenly with you. That's San Francisco. It's a toss up type of game and you simply HAVE to have it now.
Finally, who is to say that going 2-4 (or 2-5 with a loss to Buffalo) doesn't prompt Belichick to sell at the trade deadline in early November? I know the playoffs are expanded this year and the Patriots SHOULD be able to at least make that last wild card spot, but who knows what Bill thinks. I tend to believe he'll compete until the end, because he has to for his reputation after letting Brady walk, but I'm also worried that he cares less about that then we all think.
I've never experienced this feeling before. I don't think any of us have. Even if the season kicks back up and we hit a stride and make some noise in the playoffs, it will come as more of a surprise then normal. Right now, without Tom Brady, we feel like just any other lowly team. It's harder to look at the bright side, no matter how much we want to. That's why we need a win this weekend. We need some hope. We need to win some tough ones. Otherwise we'll all have to jump on the Tampa bandwagon by Thanksgiving.