The New England Patriots' odds to make the playoffs during the 2023 NFL season were never great, and a loss in Week 3 to the New York Jets could basically end any hope of Bill Belichick's team reaching the postseason.
The Patriots are 0-2 after a Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and a Week 2 defeat to the Miami Dolphins -- both at home. New England had a chance to win both matchups, but moral victories don't factor into the playoff picture, just actual wins.
How dire is the situation for the Patriots? Is Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium truly a must-win?
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Yes, it is.
Since the league switched to eight divisions of four teams for the 2002 campaign, there have been 99 teams start 0-3 and only one of them -- the 2018 Houston Texans -- made the playoffs. Houston overcame an 0-3 start by winning their next nine games before finishing at 11-5 as AFC South champions.
So, the Patriots obviously won't be mathematically eliminated with a loss Sunday, but they would be facing a massive uphill battle and history would be stacked against them.
Complicating matters for the Patriots is their extraordinarily difficult schedule.
After playing the Jets on Sunday, they face two division leaders in the Dallas Cowboys (on the road in Week 4) and New Orleans Saints (at home in Week 5). A Week 6 matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders on the road is winnable, but the next two games are home against the Buffalo Bills in Week 7 and at the Miami Dolphins in Week 8. There's a real chance the Patriots are 2-6 or 3-5 after eight weeks.
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What are the chances the Patriots fall to 0-3 this weekend?
Well, the Patriots are road favorites right now, which isn't a huge surprise when you consider they have won 14 consecutive games versus the Jets. New York's starting quarterback, Zach Wilson, is probably the worst player in the league at his position. Wilson also is 0-4 with two touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 50.6 QB rating in four career starts against the Patriots.
The Patriots have played pretty well over the first two weeks despite the losses, but a defeat to the Jets would be cause for a full blown panic. The Pats should be a competitive team most of the season regardless of their record, but their dreams of making the playoffs almost certainly would end with a loss Sunday.