New England Patriots

Oct 25, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) and head coach Bill Belichick look on from the sideline as they take on the San Francisco 49ers in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt Dolloff,

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.

The Path is still alive for the Patriots - mathematically.

Screenshot via the New York Times

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.

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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 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