The New England Patriots currently sit as the third seed in the AFC and can clinch that spot over the final two weeks. Having completed their tough two game stretch against the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers, the Patriots finish their season against two lesser foes in the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick made a crucial error earlier this season which severely damaged his team and it’s important he doesn’t repeat that mistake Sunday.
During week 11 the Patriots demolished the Indianapolis Colts 59-24. With the game already in hand in the fourth quarter, Belichick began to replace his key players on offense with their backups. But he decided to keep some of those players on special teams and one of those players was All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. During the extra point after the final touchdown for the Patriots Gronkowski broke his forearm which has kept him out since and will keep him out again Sunday.
The injury to Gronkowski shows that any player on the football field can suffer an injury on any play no matter the situation. The Jaguars are one of the worst teams in the NFL this season so the Patriots should have complete control of the game by halftime. After seeing what happened against the Colts earlier this season, it’s imperative that the Patriots pull their key offensive players from all action once the game is well in hand.
The best the Patriots will probably end up this season is the third seed in the conference. That means after the wild card round, the Patriots will likely have to play two road games to reach the Super Bowl against two of the toughest teams in the league. The Patriots are certainly good enough to reach the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year and have proven that especially over the last two weeks. But in order to reach their goal, they must keep their best players healthy. That means learning from their past mistakes to succeed in the future.