Patriots' logic-defying win-loss splits bode well for a Super Bowl run

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Let's start with the negative angle first.

The New England Patriots lost five games this season, their most since the 2009 season. All five of the teams they lost to -- the Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers -- failed to reach the playoffs, posting a combined winning percentage of .450. 

The Patriots played their worst football against their worst opponents. But as NBC Sports Boston's own Tom E. Curran pointed out, that doesn't mean squat going forward.

That brings us to the good news: New England also played its best football against its best opponents.

ESPN's Field Yates noted Monday the Patriots are the only team in the playoffs with a perfect record (4-0) against the other postseason clubs.

In fact, three of those victories came in a three-week span between Week 5 and Week 7, when New England knocked off the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears. The Pats also dispatched the Houston Texans in Week 1.

You could argue the Texans, Colts and Bears weren't playing their best football when they faced the Patriots: Houston rattled off a nine-game win streak two weeks after playing New England, while Chicago and Indy went a combined 18-3 after their games against the Pats.

But Kansas City was a perfect 5-0 when it came to New England in Week 6 and went on to be the AFC's No. 1 seed. And as Yates observes, all of the Chiefs' four losses came against current postseason clubs, which makes you wonder how well-equipped they are for a Super Bowl run.

When the calendar flips to January, you'd rather have a team that plays down to poor competition but elevates its game against elite opponents than a club that does the opposite. The stats place the Pats firmly in the former camp, and we'll find out in the AFC Divisional Round if that makes a difference.

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