Talk about one extreme to the other.
A week after the Patriots played – and lost – one of the best teams in the NFL in the 49ers, they now prepare for one of the worst, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
There’s been some talk that the Patriots should purposely lose over the next two weeks in order to ensure avoiding the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the postseason.
Is that humanly possible against a Jaguars team that ranks at or near the bottom of the NFL in every major category?
Besides, going on a two or three game losing streak before the postseason isn’t the taste the Patriots want in their mouths. In fact, they’ll use Sunday’s game to gauge their mental toughness.
“This is when it matters most,” Tom Brady said. “There’s important games like this that you see how tough you are to put things behind you and to move forward. We had a good streak there going of wins, and it feels really good when you’re on those types of winning streaks, and then when you lose it feels you haven’t won a game in three years.”
In order for the Patriots to move forward, they have to correct mistakes. They’ve been able to do that for the most part this season.
“You try to get better every week but each week is new matchups and new challenges,” Bill Belichick said. “They have new players, different players, different schemes than what we saw the week before. It’s never all the same but I think fundamentally you try to improve your individual techniques, you try to improve your timing, your execution and a basic discipline of what you’re trying to do.”
What many people seem to forget is that the Patriots lost without Tom Brady’s favorite red zone threat, Rob Gronkowski. Gronk practiced with the team on Wednesday, and while it’s undetermined if he’ll play this Sunday, his impending return is certainly good news.
“It’s fun to get guys back who have been injured, no question,” Brady said. “It’s nice to be at full strength. Hopefully we can get there at some point before the season ends. The teams that are the best teams deal with it better than anyone else.”