Inigo Montoya: He’s dead. He can’t talk.
Miracle Max: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do. … Go through his clothes and look for loose change.
So the 2020 Patriots remain slightly alive. The experts had to take a break from shaking out the player’s pants for quarters after finding out the team not only still has a pulse, but pulled out out a huge win vs. Arizona and dual-threat quarterback Kyler Murray. Go figure. The same team that fell all over itself against a bad Texans team, painfully unable to slow Deshaun Watson, came out ahead this time after a terrific final drive on Sunday. A win made all the more delicious against the all-too-cocky Cardinals. Boy were they mad.
As with most of the games this season, it was a frustrating but fun game to watch. I find myself watching them play the same way I watch the ball when I’m bowling – physically bent sideways as if willing it away from the gutter it’s heading toward. The uncertainty makes it fun. Week to week I have no clue which Cam Newton we’ll get, which unit will end up as the star or the goat, or which players will show up big or completely forget how to block or tackle. One thing for sure is that this is a team of fighters and as long as they keep fighting to win, I’ll keep watching.
This week the Pats head to Los Angeles to face the 3-8 Chargers, for the first of a two-game road trip out west. Chargers are favored by -2.5, but I’m picking New England to win, and “have fun storming the castle” while they’re at it.
Around the AFC East:
*Not including Wed. afternoon Pittsburgh-Baltimore results
15th – Nate Davis (USA Today): Entering make-or-break stretch of schedule that starts with three-week road trip which includes two games in five days at Los Angeles’ new SoFi Stadium. [LW: 20]
16th – Nick Goss (NBC Sports Boston): The Patriots just won’t go away. They remain in the AFC playoff race after beating the Cardinals 20-17 on a last-second field goal from kicker Nick Folk. The Patriots have three consecutive road games coming up, beginning with a Week 13 matchup versus the Chargers. New England has only one win in five road games this season. [LW: 21]
16th – Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): The Terminator isn’t dead yet. [LW: 19]
16th – Mitch Goldich (SI): Just when you think it’s finally time to bury the New England Patriots … well it usually isn’t. I think this run will ultimately fall short of the playoffs but the 2020 Patriots will go down as a fairly average football team, which is a lot better than I expected when they were clawing their way back from down 10 against the Jets, now three wins in four games ago. [LW: 20]
17th – Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): It’s pretty remarkable that Bill Belichick is 5-5 in games Cam Newton has started, when Newton has four passing touchdowns and nine interceptions. He’s also doing it with a defense that lost several key pieces. Belichick won’t win Coach of the Year or anything, but he’s doing more with the hand he was dealt than anyone else would. [LW: 21]
17th – Peter Botte (NY Post). [LW: 18]
17th – NFL Nation (ESPN): Most important game remaining: Week 13 at L.A. Chargers. “The Next One.” When Tom Brady used to be asked which Super Bowl ring was his favorite, that was always his answer. In the case of the Patriots’ remaining schedule, it also applies because at 5-6 they likely can’t afford another loss if they want to keep their long-shot playoff hopes alive. The final five games unfold this way — at Chargers, at Rams, at Dolphins, vs. Bills, vs. Jets. [LW: 18]
17th – Consensus (Bleacher Report): When the New England Patriots fell in Houston last week, it appeared as though their dynasty was officially dead. Their long run of consecutive trips to the playoffs seemed to be over. But after upsetting the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12, New England’s wild-card hopes are still alive. Based on the box score, the Patriots should have lost. They mustered only 179 total yards of offense, and their ground game managed a meager 3.7 yards per carry. They had only 16 first downs and lost the turnover battle, too. But New England found a way to gut out the win. And while a postseason berth remains a long shot, Sunday’s win was a reminder that counting out a Bill Belichick-led team can easily backfire. [LW: 18]
18th – Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots’ defense rose to the occasion in key situations against Murray. They also got a massive lift from James White to prop up Cam Newton. Like the 49ers in the NFC, they won’t die in the AFC until mathematically eliminated. [LW: 20]
18th – Sean T. McGuire (NESN): The Patriots continue to play to the level of their competition, but that wasn’t a bad thing Week 12 with their upset win over the Cardinals. It won’t be easy, but New England’s path to the playoffs isn’t as dead as it was just last week. [LW: 20]
18th – Danny Kelly (The Ringer): The muddled middle. [LW: 21]
20th – Mark Schofield (TouchdownWire): There are a lot of things you can say about the 2020 New England Patriots. One of them is that this year has been different. Another thing you can say is that it has been… fun? The Patriots came storming back to overcome an early ten-point deficit to upset the Arizona Cardinals on the game’s final play, with kicker Nick Folk drilling a 50-yard attempt to beat the Cardinals 20-17. …
…With the victory, New England’s slim playoff hopes remain alive for another week. Up next? A trip to the West Coast for back-to-back games in Los Angeles. They’ll see rookie Justin Herbert and the Chargers next weekend. [LW: 24]
AVG. RANK: 17.0 [last week: 19.5]