Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/21/11
1. An Improved Defense
The Patriots defense ranks last in the league in total defense, allowing an average 414.4 yards per game, and last in pass defense, allowing an average 296.7 yards per game. It’s gotten to a point this season that wide receivers are playing defensive back for the Patriots. But they have Tom Brady, who is leading an offense that is scoring an average of 31.2 points per game, 10 more points than what the defense is allowing per game. He’s bailing out a bad defense, and over the course of the Patriots six-game winning streak, Brady has thrown 15 touchdowns to just one interception. Luckily for them though, four of those six teams have had losing records and their next two games are against teams with losing records. If the Patriots want to make a deep playoff run, their defense has to improve if they’re going to beat teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
 
2. Home-Field Advantage
The Patriots, at 11-3, have a one-game lead over the rest of the AFC for home-field advantage in the playoffs. And with remaining games at home against the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, it’d be hard to see the Patriots not getting home-field advantage. The Patriots play well at home, having a combined 21-1 regular season record over the past three seasons (and can make it 23-1 by winning out). There’s no doubt about it that playing at Gillette Stadium is a huge advantage for the Patriots. However, the Patriots are 0-2 at home in the playoffs over the last two seasons, and this will bring me to my final thing Patriots fans are wishing for.
 
3. Winning A Playoff Game
The Patriots haven’t won in the postseason since the 2007 AFC Championship Game, where they defeated the San Diego Chargers 21-12 to improve to 18-0. Since then, they’ve been upset by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII 17-14, got blown out by the Ravens 33-14 in a 2009 wild-card game, and lost 28-21 last postseason against the New York Jets in the divisional round. So it’s been awhile for the Patriots, especially Brady, who started off his career going 10-0 in the postseason with three Super Bowl victories, and has gone 4-5 since. It’s very disappointing and unusual for the Patriots to have gone this long without winning in the playoffs, so you can bet that their fans are wishing for a playoff victory–at home nonetheless–this holiday season. 
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