The New England Patriots’ emphatic win over the Jets on Monday night means they are now 7-0 for the season with all the talk about whether they can emulate their exploits of 2007 and go the whole regular season undefeated.
The campaign so far has thrown up little in the way of hurdles for Bill Belichick’s men, having strolled to victory in six of their seven games so far with a relatively close 16-10 win over Buffalo being the only real scare.
But perhaps more tellingly, in their other six games of 2019, the Pats offence have scored 30 points or more against the sides they have faced as the defending champions set their sights on another Super Bowl in 2020.
However, beating the likes of the Bills, Jets, Dolphins and Giants won’t convince anyone just yet that championship number seven is a mere formality and as we head into the business end of the season the Patriots can look forward to some greater challenges than the ones they have faced thus far.
After a trip to the increasingly inconsistent Cleveland Browns, of which much was expected in 2019, the schedule admittedly gets tougher as, over a six-week stretch, the Patriots host the Cowboys and Chiefs and travel to face the Ravens, Eagles and Texans, with a bye week thrown in.
They finish up by traveling to face a Bengals team that is all but playing for professional pride, before coming home for two final games against the Bills, who have surprised many so far this campaign and then the Dolphins. – who could well be staring down the barrel at an 0-16 year.
Of course, So many things had to go right for the Patriots to avoid a regular season loss in 2007 and counting on all of those stars to align once again this time around is a tall order to say the least.
No team can expect to go all season without any injuries, but those Pats came pretty close with the only starter to get hurt during the season being Rosevelt Colvin, who wasn’t lost until Week 13, so to expect such fortune this time around would be asking a lot.
And it’s not just about keeping your players healthy, it’s about the sides you face and whether they are at full strength and firing on all cylinders when you play them; something which definitely went Belichick’s way 12 years ago.
New England ran into five backup quarterbacks during that 16-0 campaign with Cleo Lemon starting twice for the Dolphins; A.J. Feeley deputising for the Eagles and Kyle Boller coming in for Steve McNair, while the Ravens’ J.P. Losman was taken- out of the game after the opening series to be replaced by Trent Edwards for the majority of the game.
Of course, when all is said and done, does it really matter?
The last time the Patriots went an entire season undefeated they eventually lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants, so apart from yet than another accolade for a team and a coach who has already won the lot, do they really have to prove anything to anyone by going a whole regular season without a loss if they end the season empty handed.
New England has won six Super Bowls during this dynasty and the Pats have more combined Super Bowl rings than any other team in football history with Bellichick’s eight and Brady’s six – put simply, the only currency this team deals in is championship wins.
But to emulate the achievements of the 1972 Miami Dolphins and win the biggest prize in US sport having not lost a game would be the ultimate accolade for both, not to mention one which could just bring the curtain down on both of their glittering careers.
That’s when it matters.
*Odds subject to change