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Monday, November 27, 2006

General thoughts on The Pats...

We're heading into December, the final month of the NFL regular season. Where are The Patriots at?

Well at 8-3 The Pats have a good record and the division lead. I'm always happy when they hit that 8 win mark. There's no way they can have a losing season now. Of course, expectations for the team are a lot higher than a .500 season these days, but it still gives me a sense of relief to get those 8 wins. Call it a throwback to the days when the Pats did not always expect to contend for the Superbowl on a yearly basis.

The Patriots are currently the 4th seed in the AFC, though that could change and they could potentially move up a spot, maybe two, by the time the end of December rolls around. The Jets are still hanging around and are two games back in the division, but The Pats have a pretty favorable schedule heading into December. It would take an epic collapse for them to lose the division lead at this point.

Sadly The Patriots lost linebacker Junior Seau for the remainder of the year when he suffered a broken arm in Sunday's game vs Chicago. It is a real shame that he had to end his season, and most likely his career in this way, going out on an injury. He was having a stellar season after coming out of a brief retirement to play with The Pats. Maybe the team can give him a Superbowl as a final gift before he hangs em up for good.

The biggest concern for me right now with the team has been the continued problem with turnovers. Whether it's tipped passes that wind up as interceptions or just plain fumbling the ball, the continued turnovers that are occurring, game in and game out, are going to end up being the team's undoing, just as it was last year in the playoffs. Unless they can get the problem fixed, that is. The Pats have a month of December Football to figure out how to fix the turnover problem. This is the time when teams really start to get into full playoff football mode, so hopefully the Pats can put a stop to the giveaway problem as they ramp up for the post-season.

Besides the turnovers, the next biggest concern is the continued rash of injuries to the team's defense. There's not much to say there. Every season, the Patriots sign about 35 cornerbacks and safetys to their roster to start the season and by December, it seems like 33 of them are always hurt. It's the same old story every year, and if anybody can deal with it, through experience if nothing else, it's The Patriots.

Here's a quick look at the top four seeds and their remaining schedule:

Indy - I bleeping hate Indy. It seems like I like them less and less every year. Believe it or not, there was once a time when I actually liked Indianapolis. They used to be one of my backup teams. Those days are long gone. Indy faces Tennessee, Jacksonville, Cincy, Houston and Miami. On the face of things, none of these teams would seem like they would present a huge challenge to The Colts at this point, but Tennessee has been knocking off good teams left and right and Jacksonville always gives Indy a game.

Baltimore - These guys are scary this year, scarier than Indy if you ask me. They've got Cincy, K.C., Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. There are some tough games in there, but with the way The Ravens are bowling over teams, none of them are jumping out as a potential loss for The Ravens. K.C. is probably the toughest game they have left.

San Diego - These guys are one of my main Patriots backup teams, except when they are in the way of The Pats getting a higher seed in the playoffs that is. They've got Buffalo, Denver, K.C., Seattle and Arizona. Not necessarily an easy schedule for these guys. Denver and K.C. are going to give them everything they have. Seattle could be a challenge as well.

The Pats - Detroit, Miami, Houston, Jax and Tennessee. There are a few potentially challenging games in there. Miami, Jacksonville and Tenn could be tough games. As long as The Pats continue playing solid all around football and clean up the turnovers, these are all winnable games.

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