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Now We Know

THE OLD SACHEM Bill Stewart-2
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~ The Old Sachem ~

  Bill Belichick solved the conundrum this past week when he declared Mac Jones his quarterback. The prior week both Belichick and Jones refused to answer the question of who runs the team offense. Now the Boston papers are saying everything is hunky-dory, after they beat the New York Jets, who, incidentally, play in New Jersey.

  The Patriots are still in last place in the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference with a 4 wins and 4 losses record – a game behind both the Jets and Miami, each with 5 and 3 records. The Conference leader remains Buffalo with a 6 and 1 record.

  This week’s win propels coach Belichick to second place among NFL coaches with his 258th win with one franchise, passing Don Shula of Miami. George Halas of the Bears is the leader with 318 wins for a single franchise. When it comes to total wins during a coach’s career, Shula is the leader with 347 wins, Belichick has 325 and Halas has 324.

  Now they play the Colts at home on Sunday, Nov. 6, have a bye week Nov. 13, play at home against the Jets on Nov. 20, go to Minnesota and play the Vikings on Nov. 24, then the Bills at Gillette on Dec.1.

  The Colts have a 3-4-1 record, losing the last 2, and the Jets are 5 and 3. The Vikings are 6 and 1 and Buffalo is 5 and 1. The Colts should be a win for the Pats; the Jets are a question mark, and the Vikings and Bills are out of the Patriots’ league.

  Although the experts say the Pats have now returned to a chance of the playoffs, the schedule appears against the team. As I see it, the best that the Pats can do over this period is 2 wins, which will bring them to 6 and 6 by the first week in December. The Patriots play the Cardinals (3-5) away, the Raiders (2-5) away, the Bengals (4-3) at home, the Dolphins (5-3) at home and finish at the Bills (5-1). Of these last 5 games, I would expect the Pats to win 2 and lose 3, which would mean to my view an overall record of 8 and 9, not a stellar performance.

  Now let’s look at the last performance. The defense swallowed the Jets at key times during the contest, and a holding penalty against the Jets nullified an 84-yard touchdown interception in the second quarter. The Patriots had a tough time finishing off drives and had to muster 5 field goals – not able to work through the red zone of touchdowns, except once: a 5-yard toss that followed a 35 yard dash by Stevenson.

  Some stats: The Jets had 51 yards rushing on 15 attempts. The Pats had 127 yards rushing on 8 attempts. The Jets had 336 yards passing and the Patriots, 161. The Pats made 8 first downs rushing, the Jets only 1.

  The Patriots need a successful defense to carry them forward, and the Pats are a rushing team behind Stevenson. The passing of Jones will not get them far, and probably Zappe would do no better. If I am right about the next 4 games, the Pats are doomed to last or next to last in their division.

  I hope you had a happy Halloween.

(Editor’s Note: Bill Stewart, better known to Saugus Advocate readers as “The Old Sachem,” is back after a hiatus from writing his weekly column about sports.)

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