Nick Wright explains why Pats vs. Bucs is a must win for New England

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Is Thursday night a must win for the Patriots? Nick Wright says it is, and he tells you why.

- Their threshold is not, can we make the playoffs? Can we win the division? Their threshold is make the damn Super Bowl. Like, nobody's going to call it a bad season and make the Super Bowl and lose. But they make the divisional round and lose, bad season. They make the AFC championship game and lose, eh, that ain't great. For this team, this team only, those are the stakes. Not just because of their history of success, but because of the expectations going into this year.

So why is tonight so important? What we know-- not just about the Patriots-- that the Patriots have never made a Super Bowl under this regime, last 15, 16 years, without having a bye. But for the entire league, the most instructive piece of data you can have, will you make the Super Bowl? Do you ever bye in the playoffs?

Since they changed the format 27 years ago, 40% of teams with a bye make the playoffs-- or make the Super Bowl. 5% of teams without a bye make the Super Bowl. And if you go to two and three and you still have to go to Buffalo, still have to go to Pittsburgh, you still have to go to Oakland-- those are just the road games-- tough to find the 12 wins that will be necessary to get that bye, CC. So tonight is a must win in week five.

- Must win!

- Nick I know you're going to be going to be shocked about this. I agree with you.

- Whoa!

- It's very important.

- Hold on.

- Very important is far different.

- It's very-- very important because the optics. From an optics standpoint, this defense has got to get better. I mean, not only do they have to win, but this is a game about painting pictures, all right? Watch the weather forecast. There's a high probability of rain tonight. So New England likes to throw the ball an awful lot. What's going to be their identity tonight? They've had a hard time defensively stopping the run, stopping the pass, motion, blown coverage. So look for Jameis Winston to try to attack that secondary.

But New England, I mean, their margin of error, we never thought they'd be in this position. Like, we never thought they'd be there. We'd never thought New England-- and I don't even think Bill-- Bill Belichick, even in his days in Cleveland going to have to get dusty and look at it-- has he ever had a defense at any point in the season that was last?