The thing about the Patriots last season is that they never lost more than two games in a row. And, of course, everyone knows how the ended last season on such an impressive winning streak. What hurts the most during a four game losing streak is confidence. That confidence, once it was established, never wavered in 2001. It carried over into 2002, but that seems like a distant memory now.
Of all the playoff teams in 2001, only one team lost more than two in a row during the regular season. The Raiders lost their last three, but stopped their late season skid against the Jets in the wildcard game. Basically, playoff teams post long winning streaks and avoid long losing streaks. Once again, the Patriots are trying to work against the trends of history.
The silver lining to all this pessimistic talk is that the Patriots are just about through the toughest part of their schedule. A win at Buffalo this Sunday would probably turn the mood around quickly. The Patriots play 4 out of their last 6 games of the season at home. Furthermore, 5 out of the last 9 games are against teams with losing records. The Pats could easily go 7-2 in the last 9 games and sneak into the playoffs with a 10-6 record.
However, lose at Buffalo and the road to the playoffs begins to look very steep. 9-7 probably won't cut it for a wildcard spot this year. The Pats would have just room for one loss and a game in Oakland staring them in the face.
Five straight losses would be too much for a young quarterback to overcome. QB Tom Brady is playing better than he did last season, but Patriot fans can hardly expect him to motivate the veterans to elevate their play. Last year's 8th game against the Falcons was hardly do or die. This year's 8th game against the Bills is.
It is not where you are. It is how you got there.