Sunday’s game against the Jets is the biggest must-win game in Patriots history. A loss Sunday could prove more devastating than the loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. Yes, I just said that.
Like the Super Bowl game, the matchup is heavily in favor of the Patriots to win.
The Patriots haven’t lost a game since Nov. 9 against the Cleveland Browns. The Pats are also 8-0 at home this season, with one of those wins being a 45-3 blowout of the Jets on Dec. 6. Quarterback Tom Brady had arguably the best regular season of his career and enters the game with streaks longer than his hair. He’s thrown two or more touchdown passes and no interceptions in each of his past nine games. On top of that, he hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 6 against the Ravens.
Given that, it’s easy to pick the Patriots to win, but an unexpected loss to the Jets will prove devastating, and maybe the worst in history for the organization.
The Patriots have shown streaks of invincibility in the past, but all streaks do come to an end at some point. A win is expected Sunday, but anything can happen.
Tom Brady hasn’t lost a regular-season home game since 2006, but he and the Patriots found out the hard way that things can change in the playoffs last year when they were whooped at home by the Baltimore Ravens in the postseason.
Although the Patriots entered Super Bowl XLII with an 18-0 record and the greatest offense in the history of the NFL, they were upset and thwarted by a miracle catch in the final minutes. It’s no secret that anything can happen in the playoffs — just ask the defending Super Bowl champion Saints, who were knocked off by the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card round.
The Patriots cannot afford to lose Sunday. Not only would a loss cripple the team’s very successful season and disappoint expectations of winning the Super Bowl, but it also would fuel the Jets’ ego and validate the team’s presumed superiority over the Patriots.
Not only that, but a Jets win could shift the balance of power in the AFC East in the coming years.
A win Sunday for the Patriots will silence those pesky Jets. Their players will still yap in spite of the Patriots, but who will take them seriously? Winning will shut up Rex Ryan, Antonio Cromartie and other loud-mouths.
The Jets also aren’t downplaying the importance of Sunday’s game. Ryan claimed that the game is the "second-biggest game in the history of this franchise," behind the team’s Super Bowl III victory all the way back in 1969.
"Even more so than last year’s Indianapolis game (in the AFC championship), I think this one is huge because you got your rival, a team that has won three Super Bowls, right there in your own division, at their place, coming off the huge embarrassing loss that we had that Monday night game," said Ryan.
A win will send the team to the AFC Championship and assert dominance and bragging rights over their division rival. While the game is of paramount importance for the Jets, it could be just as huge for the Patriots.
A Super Bowl XLII victory would have solidified the Patriots as the greatest football team ever. A win Sunday will solidify the Patriots’ dominance over the Jets.
The Patriots organization and fan base cannot afford two devastating losses in such a short span, and the latter would be even more humiliating.