The New England Patriots enter Week 11 with the AFC’s best record and the second-best mark in the NFL.
But Tom Brady knows as well as anybody that an 8-1 start won’t mean a darn thing come playoff time.
“What I think is at this point, it doesn’t matter,” the Patriots quarterback told Jim Gray during his weekly appearance on Westwood One Radio’s “Monday Night Football” pregame show. “Because 8-1 means nothing. In 2001, we won the Super Bowl and we were 5-5. In 2015, we were 10-0 and we lost four of our last six. You don’t have to look far. You look at the NHL — how were the St. Louis Blues halfway into (last) season? How were the Houston Astros two months into the season? Not very good. The point is any team at this point, their season is going to be determined by what happens the next seven weeks of football. Not the last nine or 10 — the next seven are going to determine what happens to these teams, their seedings, the playoffs and all that.
“And from our standpoint, I’m happy we’re 8-1, but I really want us to play our best football as we move forward. Everything that’s happened to this point, we’ve got to learn from, we’ve got to use it, and we’ve got to use those things and execute under pressure against the competition that’s going to be at it’s toughest. I’m looking forward to a great opportunity for our team.”
The 2018 Patriots sat at 7-3 following their bye week, then dropped two of their next four games before rattling off five straight wins en route to a Super Bowl title.
“I wasn’t thinking about the Super Bowl (10) games in,” Brady told Gray. “Last year, we were (7)-3. We were coming off one of the worst losses we had all season at Tennessee, where we got thoroughly outplayed, outcompeted that day. I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking, ‘Man, how are we going to get a win?’
“And we actually struggled at points in the second half of the season. But we found a way at the right time to play our best, and that’s what the outcome was. And every team is trying to do the exact same thing as what we did last year or what Philly did the year before where they won six of their last seven or we did the year before that where we played our best football at the end of the year in 2016.”
The Patriots are in the thick of the most difficult stretch of their 2019 schedule. After losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the game before their bye, they’ll now face the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs — all of whom currently are either in playoff position or less than one game back — before finding respite against the winless Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15.
“Football, it ebbs and it flows,” Brady told Gray. “It’s a long season. It’s a lot of matchups. But what I’ve learned over a lot of experience is the best teams play the best in the biggest moments down the stretch. We’re getting close to that stretch run, and we’re going to have to play our best football against the best teams.
“And there’s nothing I can say or do or the media can say or do or all the experts on TV who may think they know a lot, but in the end, they don’t know anything, because none of us know. We have to all go out there and earn it and do it, which makes it fun for everyone to watch these games as they unfold over the next month-and-a-half.”
Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images