I was all set to crown the Patriots as a lock for home field advantage. After all, nine wins in a row, a stellar defense, great coach and a terrific quarterback, would certainly give the impression this team had no holes. But when I read this amazing statistic about Tom Brady, it caused me great concern.
For the moment, set aside the 12 interceptions by the Patriots signal-caller this season and instead lets focus on this 15 touchdown passes. Now that's not a stellar seasonal performance to date, instead it's barely above average. But looking closer at his numbers, I discovered an astonishing fact. Brady only has one touchdown pass at home this season.
That's not only mind-boggling but should give Patriots fans cause for alarm. Yes Brady has a Super Bowl ring and the Patriots have found a way to keep wining ugly. In fact some of those wins were down and out boring to watch. But nobody can play at a high level every week. You have ups and downs.
As everyone knows, they've clinched the AFC East and at least one or possibly two playoff games at home. But if Brady has a difficulty throwing touchdowns at home, who are they going to beat?
With two of the Patriots last three games at home; this weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills to close out the season, Brady needs two very strong home games to improve on that glaring and telling statistic.
Setting aside the Jaguars and Bills for the moment, Brady and head coach Bill Belichick have to be concerned considering the Patriots have no real threat at running back, good but not great wide receivers and his star quarterback is unproductive at home. That combination does not bode well for having the advantage at home in the playoffs; unless its snowing and you're playing the Oakland Raiders.
Sorry had to do it!
This season the Patriots have a pair of 12-0 wins and a 9-6 win at home. There is no way the Chiefs, Colts, Ravens, Broncos or the Titans will score less than a dozen points in a home playoff game in New England.
In fact, the Patriots might be better served to play their post season games on the road. Brady has been lights out on the road throwing 14 touchdowns this season. New England stands 7-0 against teams with a winning record this year but only three of those wins were at home. Another reason the home field advantage might not suit the Patriots.
If New England does indeed win home field advantage; Brady will have to be at the top of his game at home. Every team the Patriots will face in the playoffs with the exception of the Ravens has a very poor secondary.
The Titans are dead last against the pass, the Colts, Chiefs and Broncos all have a propensity for giving up the big passing yards and plays. All of those team play soft coverage underneath and put little pressure on the quarterback. In fact, the Ravens are the only team plays a decent bump and run coverage.
I'll keep the Patriots running game out of this column because all of the teams with the exception of the Chiefs can stop the run. But Kansas City if they don't have to respect a ground attack can blitz more and they can take the ball away.
This weekend will be a good test for the Patriots and in particular Tom Brady. Wide receiver Troy Brown is expected to play this week and that will help the offense at home. Brown and Brady are the keys to keeping the defense honest and spreading the field. Even further if the two can get hot in the last three games of the season, the Patriots will increase their chances of taking advantage of playing at home throughout the playoffs.