With the Houston Texans falling to the Indianapolis Colts this afternoon and the New England Patriots handling the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, the Patriots earned a much needed first round bye. After starting the season 3-3, the Patriots caught fire finishing the season on a 9-1 run to clinch the second seed in the AFC Sunday afternoon. This bye for the AFC East champions will give them much needed rest for an injured ridden team.
The Patriots have been dealing with injuries to key players all season long. It started before the season even began when the two returning offensive linemen, Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer, were dealing with injury which has had them in and out of the lineup all year. In week two Pro Bowl tight end Aaron Hernandez suffered an ankle injury which kept him out for five weeks. Just one week later the Patriots second choice wide receiver at the time, Julien Edelman, suffered a hand injury which kept him out for three weeks. In week eleven it was the All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski who broke his forearm of which he is just now returning. Finally in week thirteen it was Edelman again this time with a broken foot which ended his season.
The Patriots defense has struggled at times this season and has had issues with injuries too. Hoping to help their weak defensive secondary, the Patriots signed veteran defensive back Will Allen but he suffered a season ending injury in just the second preseason game. Promising young cornerback Ras-I Dowling, who was placed on injured reserve during his rookie season, was done so again in October with a thigh injury. While not on injured reserve, the Patriots have dealt with injury to other key defensive players Patrick Chung, Alfonzo Dennard, Steve Gregory, and Brandon Spikes. At this point of the season every team has injuries but the Patriots have had more than their fair share in 2012.
This bye week comes at a good time for the Patriots. According to the Patriots injury report, 15 of the 22 starters on the team were limited in practice during preparation for Sunday’s regular season finale. Not knowing who the first playoff opponent will be until next weekend, this coming week can now be used for healing and recuperating from a long regular season rather than preparing for another fast approaching game.
The Patriots went into the final weekend of the season looking for a win and some help to clinch a first round bye. They got that Sunday with the Texans loss and now have the opportunity to achieve much needed rest over the next week. As they sit back and watch the events unfold over wild card weekend, they’ll learn who they will host as a rested and healthy team.