The Patriots still very much need one more win this regular season. Even with a 12-3 record, an AFC East Crown, and coming off their best victory of 2019, New England will need to finish off strong in Week 17.
The Patriots will clinch the 2nd seed in the AFC with a win over the 4-11 Dolphins Sunday afternoon. If New England somehow manages to lose to Miami, the Chiefs can jump into a bye with a win over the 5-10 Chargers at home.
The Patriots historically have had much more success when they have enjoyed resting over Wild Card Weekend. During this unfathomable stretch of domination for the Patriots since 2001, their 9 Super Bowl appearances all have one massive component. Those teams all started their playoffs in the Divisional Round. In 2001, 20003, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018, New England enjoyed a first round bye.
Having that week off comes with two massive advantages Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots have always taken advantage of.
The first one is beneficial for the players; rest. It may seem obvious now with Brady playing into his 40’s and not being quite as dominant in the past two seasons. But not having to play four postseason games has always been helpful for Brady. Not to mention, all the other 52 players on New England are hurting after a grueling 16 game NFL season. They need that week to recover their bodies and get their minds right for the most important stretch of the year.
Do not forget what an extra week means for Belichick and his coaching staff. While they will not know their exact opponent until the games have been played, they are able to spend time preparing for any team they draw. Belichick and company can spend all week dissecting every aspect of these teams. No stone will be left unturned during their film sessions. Facing Bill Belichick is tough when he has just one week to prepare.
So while New England will be battling Miami at Gillette Stadium, where the Dolphins have not left victorious since 2008, the Patriots will need to stay focused. New England very rarely take their opponents lightly, especially at home. It is fair to say they will not let an opportunity at a bye slip through their fingers.
If New England does take care of business and “Squish the Fish”, there is a chance they can host the AFC Championship Game.
The Baltimore Ravens have locked up the Number 1 seed going into the postseason. However, if the Ravens lose in the Divisional Round, and the Patriots win their first playoff game, New England will host the opportunity to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 54. However, the Patriots would relish the chance for a rematch against the Ravens in Baltimore.
So if the Patriots want a much more favorable venture towards their 7th Super Bowl victory, New England will need to clinch a much deserved off week with a victory over the Miami Dolphins.
Story by Chad Jones
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