New England Patriots

Nov 25, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass against the New York Jets during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots can’t afford to have another clunker right now, what with the Ravens breathing down their necks in the AFC standings. But there’s good news for those who expect Bill Belichick to decide that he wants to keep winning football games: the Patriots have mostly dominated after their regular season bye week in recent years.

New England has won four of its last five regular season games following the bye, and their wins have come by an average margin of about 21 points. The lone blip in the past five years was a 31-24 loss to the Seahawks in 2016, a game in which the Pats came up one yard short of a tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

They haven’t been perfect after bye weeks in this decade. They also lost 24-20 to the Panthers, another game where they came up just short. The officials infamously picked up a pass interference flag on the last game. Seemed like they were just tired and wanted to go home. And the Patriots also lost 25-17 to the Steelers following their bye week in 2011.

But the point is that those games are outliers. The Patriots typically don’t suck after the bye. Perhaps coincidentally, they rarely suck ever. But after the bye, they’re a strong-to-quite-strong 14-4 since 2001. If they beat the Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, they’ll move into a tie for the best record in that department with … the Ravens!?

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Obviously this is far from a guarantee that the Pats are going to wax the Eagles. Philly has won two in a row and they’re also 14-4 after bye weeks since 2001, which of course they’ve accomplished with four different head coaches. They could present a tough matchup for the Pats with their play in the trenches. But at the same time, they’ve become a coin flip after the bye this decade. All four of their post-bye losses have come since 2012. Where’s Andy Reid when you need him!?

But the Patriots are, in fact, still an excellent football team with the best record in the AFC. It’s just important that Belichick doesn’t feel like losing anymore, because they’ve entered the most treacherous part of their 2019 schedule. Recent history suggests that we’ll get a much sharper Patriots team on Sunday than what we saw in Baltimore.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.