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Circular Logic: Patriots’ Playoff Chances are Anyone’s Guess

Can Tom Brady lead the Patriots to their first playoff win since the 2007 season? (AFP Photo/Rich Schultz)

They were good. Then they were bad. Now they’re good again. That basically sums up the Patriots season so far.

With the playoffs all but likely, there should be optimism across New England, yet this is not the case. And after following up a 14-2 regular season with a one-in-done in the playoffs, this lack of assurance is not unwarranted.

Is a fourth Super Bowl a likely outcome?  We don’t know. Will we at least be enlightened on what this team is capable of?  By the looks of the rest of the schedule, probably not.

The Best and the Worst

So this much we know:  The offense is awesome, the secondary is terrible, Andre Carter is apparently a beast, and Tom Brady is sexy. Minus Carter, that was more or less what the Patriots were like heading into the playoffs against the Ravens.

What appears somewhat comforting is the fact that the defense is slowly, but surely getting better. Then again, the Patriots haven’t exactly had the most treacherous schedule. To make matters worse, it is arguable that the Patriots haven’t won a game against a good team this year.

Miami, San Diego, Buffalo, Oakland, New York (Jets), Kansas City and Philadelphia? I don’t care what their records are, but none of those teams are particularly frightening. Additionally, Dallas appeared rather uninspired in their loss to New England.

On the other hand, the Patriots lost to Buffalo (who still forgot they were bad at the time), Pittsburgh and New York (Giants). Those latter two teams are formidable, and New England will likely have to face Pittsburgh if they hope to reach the Super Bowl.

Beating up on bad teams is easy. Losing to good ones? Not so much.

Furthermore, in the grand scheme of things, there isn’t going to be that big a difference between the No. 1 playoff seed and the No. 6. The AFC doesn’t appear to be home to any powerhouses this year. New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh…honestly it’s a toss up between any of them. Regardless of who finishes where in the playoff slotting, no AFC team is a surefire lock to win the conference.

What to Expect?

Hypothetically, the best thing the Patriots could do now is win games and prove the haters wrong. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to prove.

Wins against Indianapolis, Washington, Denver, Miami, or Buffalo are not going to change the way people view this team. Games against Baltimore, Green Bay and San Francisco would be nice previews of what New England can do, but it won’t happen until the games really count.

The Patriots could very well finish 13-3, and get annihilated by another mediocre AFC foe in the first round.

All of this brings us back to the beginning. I’ll take my chances with Brady and Bill Belichick every day for the rest of my life, but that’s what everyone has said for the past seven years with nothing to show for it. It’s nothing that we don’t already know, but the playoffs are where the winners show up.

Can the Patriots relive their glory days or will they continue to dissapoint in the playoffs? Ask me again in six or seven weeks — this joke of a regular season isn’t going to give us any hints.

About Josh Segal

Josh Segal is a professional shock artist and trash talker. He also occasionally writes opinion pieces about the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and their respective leagues at large. Segal is currently a junior at Kenyon College where he plans to double major in drama and political science. Apparently he also writes his own biographies in the third person.

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