By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Yes, you will sound like a total lunatic if you’re still talking about The Path™ on Monday. It’s hard to envision this version of the Patriots consistently playing good enough football to go either 6-0 or 5-1 in their final six games, not to mention the help they’d need on top of that.
But dismissing the lunacy of The Path™ for the Patriots is not based on logic or data, but emotion. The frustration is understandable after the Patriots defense laid an egg against Deshaun Watson and lost a very winnable game in Houston on Sunday.
But the truth is, the final nail shouldn’t be driven into The Path™ until the Patriots reach eight losses.
Mathematically, The Path™ is still alive.
That’s at least the case if you believe the New York Times’ NFL Playoff Simulator, which has the Patriots at a 98 percent chance to make the playoffs … if they somehow win out and finish 10-6. No rational human being believes that will happen. But the possibility is still there.
Give the Patriots one more loss and a 9-7 record, and their chances of being a playoff team drop significantly. If they lose to the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday and fall to 4-7, believe it or not, they’re still at 56 percent to make the playoffs if they won their final five in a row. But say they lose to the Dolphins in Miami, a place that has historically given the team trouble. The chances drop to 35 percent.
Slim, clearly. Realistic, god no. But last I checked, 35 is greater than zero. “The Path Is Dead” remains just a take and nothing more. And it’s not even a courageous take anymore. It takes real courage to show any shred of optimism for the Patriots’ playoff hopes.
The Patriots’ odds take a similar hit if you give them a loss in any other game remaining on the schedule, including a home date with the Buffalo Bills. But of course, the Pats haven’t inspired much confidence at all that they’re capable of going on a real winning streak. They’re 4-6 and haven’t won more than two games consecutively.
But if you believe at all in facts, math, data, logic, reason … keep The Path™ alive. Even if you’re starting to hear a death rattle. Optimism is good for your mental health, however irrational it may be.
At least you’ll have the facts on your side.
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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at firstname.lastname@example.org.