It seems strange to point at the New England offense in late December and say they need to play better.
However, after going on a seven game win streak and blowing out Indianapolis and Houston, they've had some tight games in between. The slow start vs. the 49ers and then a sloppy game in Jacksonville has Tom Brady furious over the inability to execute.
The offensive line in particular needs to step it up as Brady has been getting hit more every game. The two game stretch with the Texans and 49ers was a good indication who the Patriots really are. When inspired and fresh, they can blow you out of the building like the Texans game.
However, as in playoff scenarios on six day's rest, they struggled to wake up against the 49ers and had to overcome a 31-3 deficit with a furious comeback that left them spent and unable to finish the deal.
Then the Patriots traveled to Jacksonville to face the worst defense in football and struggled. It’s fairly obvious that when rested, they come on like gangbusters, but if the past three weeks are a simulation of the playoffs, Jacksonville would have been a better football team and the Patriots could have been in deep trouble.
Brady knew that and blasted the team post-game in Jacksonville, saying they couldn’t survive playing as sloppy as they did.
The Miami game starts a new direction, a team that always plays the Patriots tough. Brady and the offense need to get the level of play they were riding midseason. There’s been a lot of talk about how the Patriots need a bye, but they don’t need the bye, they need to earn the bye.
This is a young team, and using 2010 as a model, the Patriots had a bye with a 45-3 whooping on the Jets in their back pocket and lost in the divisional round.
They need to win to create the rhythm the offense runs on and will use in the playoffs. Bill Belichick will be looking for who shows up Sunday, and who is more worried about New Years Eve.