The Patriots rattled off 10 straight wins to open the season and there were more than a few whispers about the potential for the team to repeat its performance from 2007 and go undefeated in the regular season. That all went out the window in overtime in Denver as the Broncos came away with a 30-24 victory.
With the prospects of a perfect season now gone, attention quickly turned to the team and what was best of it moving forward. In 2007 the players discussed the mounting pressure that built with each win, particularly in December when the games got tighter and the stakes higher.
With that in mind, might the Patriots be better off now that they've lost? That's how we attack this week's Samsonite Make Your Case debate.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
It would have been great to finish another regular season undefeated and even better to become the first ever NFL team to go 19-0 and win the Super Bowl. But now that the Patriots have lost I don't see much downside.
First, the team can now rest up its injured players without any pressure to cap off an historic season. The Patriots are still in command in the AFC with a one-game lead over both Cincinnati and Denver and they should be able to finish with enough wins to capture one of the two byes. Assuming that is sewn up by the time we hit Weeks 16 and 17, the rest will do some players good - just like last season.
Second, why deal with any unnecessary external pressure created by the hype that would surround a run to go undefeated? Just keep building in typical Bill Belichick fashion and get into the best situation possible to hit the postseason healthy and playing well. Historical footnotes won't help the players and coaches get to that level.
I never want to lose any games but the fact is this loss did very little to hurt the team in the long run, and in fact it may just be beneficial down the road.
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
I thought the idea was to win? Isn't that why they play the games ... to win? If that's the case I don't understand how anyone would feel a loss was a good thing.
The Patriots certainly had the talent and schedule to go undefeated and in all seriousness probably should have won the Broncos game. If they held on to that 21-7 lead in the fourth quarter, I doubt anyone would be lamenting yet another victory.
The fact is New England had an air of invincibility about the team that, even if slightly, now no longer exists. Teams know they can beat the Patriots because it just happened. While I don't believe the long-term goal of winning the Super Bowl is now lost - in fact I still believe the Patriots are the favorites - the team now has to keep fighting for playoff seeding and has made life a little tougher on itself moving forward.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.