"I trust Tom Brady. I believe in the coach. I trust a guy like Vince Wilfork. The problem is that with the exception of a handful of guys this team hasn't done anything and honestly I don't trust them. “- Tony Massarotti on the Patriots
The Felger and Massarotti Collin-tary with Kevin Collins
Sunday's 35-7 thumping of Jacksonville has many Patriots fans wondering how far the team can go in the postseason. The victory marks the seventh time in nine seasons the team has won the AFC East. Despite dismantling a mediocre Jaguars team, and earning at least one home playoff game, Tony feels the Patriots still have much to improve upon in order to make a deep playoff run.
Mazz: "If you look at the past month, aside from the Jacksonville game, teams may take the Patriots lightly once the playoffs begin. They lose to a mediocre Miami team, beat a bad Carolina team with no quarterback, and then get their first road win by only a touchdown against a really bad Buffalo team. Then this week they beat up on a mediocre Jacksonville team at home. The Patriots really haven't done anything to earn respect around the league here this December. Now, if they win their first round playoff game at home by beating a playoff caliber team and then travel to San Diego or Indianapolis and win again and end up in the conference championship game then it's a different story. They will have beaten two quality teams and won on the road against a legitimate playoff team. I think that would open everyone's eyes and people would start to think of them as the Patriots team of old. But, currently the guys on this team have nothing to do with the three championships of the past and the 16-0 season and all of that Patriot mystique that once was. Most of these guys weren't even on the team for the accomplishments of past. I'm not saying that these players aren't capable, but they haven't given us reason to believe they can do it. I trust Tom Brady. I believe in the coach. I trust a guy like Vince Wilfork. The problem is that with the exception of a handful of guys this team hasn't done anything. Honestly, I don't trust them. They haven't shown or given us the hope that they can win against a quality playoff opponent on the road."
The Collin-tary: It's that time of year again. The Patriots bandwagon is taking on any and all stragglers before it departs for Houston this weekend. Remember the patrons bashing the quarterback, bashing the coach, bashing ownership, and declaring the season legally dead after a week 12 beat down in New Orleans? Well those same folks are quickly boarding the "crazy train" once again as it steamrolls toward a Wild Card weekend at Gillette Stadium.
Tony is correct to a degree in saying the Patriots have not proven they can defeat quality playoff teams on the road. However, if you examine the team's losses in New York, Denver, Indianapolis, and Miami you will find the Patriots lost by a combined 12 points (3 point average margin of defeat). These four road defeats were against playoff caliber teams in games decided by no more than a touchdown. Not only did the Patriots have a chance to win each game, but the difference between winning and losing came down to a single play.
Looking ahead to the Patriots first round playoff matchup, there is no reason to think they won't advance to play either Indy or San Diego. Since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, the Patriots are 11-0 at home in the postseason. Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002 the franchise has a 59-12 record at home, the best in the NFL. The Patriots have a perfect 8-0 home record this season, and Tom Brady has won his last 23 starts in Foxboro. The defense is improving every week, the offense is beginning to hit stride, and most importantly the team is beginning to get its swagger back. The Patriots will get out of the first round. Where they go from there is entirely up to them.