The New England Patriots are 2-2, tied with the New York Jets, a game behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East. They Patriots are one of eleven AFC teams with a .500-or-better record a quarter of the way through the season. This is also the fifth time that the Patriots have started a season 2-2 in the Bill Belichick era. In two of those seasons, the Patriots ended up winning the Super Bowl. In all four seasons they made the playoffs. Here’s how each of those 2-2 starts ended up:
2014 – The Patriots lost road games to the Chiefs and Dolphins. They finished the season 12-4 and won the Super Bowl. Their defense was ranked 8th in scoring and 13th in yards surrendered.
2012 – The 2-2 start included loses at home to the Cardinals and on the road at Baltimore. They finished the season 12-4 and Baltimore beat them in the AFC Championship Game, 28-13. The New England defense was ranked 9th in scoring and 25th in yards surrendered.
2005 – They lost to Carolina on the road and San Diego at home. They went 10-6 and the Denver Broncos beat them in the divisional round, 27-13. Tom Brady threw two picks. The defense finished 17th in points allowed and 26th in yards that season.
2003 – They lost on the road at Buffalo and Washington early and then won their final 12 regular season games. They only had the 12th best offense that seasons so they relied on the best scoring defense in the NFL. They beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl, 32-29.
Now that we have the raw data, let’s turn it over to Grizz for analysis.
Patriots teams that start 2-2 usually turn out to be pretty good. While a Super Bowl with this defense is unlikely, the offense will almost certainly carry the defense to the playoffs where they’ll make a postseason legend out of somebody like Alex Smith, Trevor Siemian, or someone from the AFC South. (Can you imagine?)
We started talking about it a week ago, but it’s going to become a major talking point as the season goes on – the 2017 Patriots defense is historically bad. There is no shot this team wins the Super Bowl. They are currently on track to break the single-season record for most yards allowed by a defense in NFL history. Through four games the Patriots have given up 291 more yards than the Saints did through the first quarter of the 2012 season.
The Patriots have missed the playoffs just three times in the Belichick era. One time Tom Brady was injured. One time Tom Brady was an unknown rookie. One time they were coming off their first fluke Super Bowl win. That year they had the #6 scoring offense and the #6 scoring defense. In the playoffs New England’s defense and special teams scored more points than the offense and Drew Bledsoe had as many postseason touchdown passes as Tom Brady (1).
That team – 2001 – started the season 1-3. It’s the only time a Belichick team started 1-3 (unless you count the ’92 Cleveland Browns). The Patriots have also started a season 0-4 once under Belichick, 3-1 seven times, and 4-0 four times. The Pats have won the Super Bowl after 1-3, 4-0 and 3-1 starts. They’ve also lost a Super Bowl after a 18-0 start.
Belichick teams done it all. Except win a Super Bowl with a team that didn’t have a top-8 scoring defense. This year they are 31st. This year they are not winning a Super Bowl.