Driving home from the AFC Championship game on Sunday, I heard a pundit talking about the Pats. He noted that the Pats had not beaten a team with a record better than .500 all season. It was a criticism we have heard before. As it turns out, it’s true.
Week 1: Beat Miami Dolphins (6-10)
Week 2: Beat San Diego Chargers (8-8)
Week 3: Lost to Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Week 4: Beat Oakland Raiders (8-8)
Week 5: Beat NY Jets (8-8)
Week 6: Beat Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
Week 9: Lost to NY Giants (9-7)
Week 10: Beat NY Jets (8-8)
Week 11: Beat Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)
Week 12: Beat Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
Week 13: Beat Indianapolis Colts (2-14)
Week 14: Beat Washington Redskins (5-11)
Week 15: Beat Denver Broncos (8-8)
Week 16: Beat Miami Dolphins (6-10)
Week 17: Beat Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Divisional Round: Beat Denver Broncos (8-8)
Conference Round: Beat Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
But what does it really mean?
After all, four of the teams were in the AFC East with the Patriots. The Pats beat all of them twice except Buffalo. That means the Patriots contributed significantly to their records being as bad as they were.
Now consider some of other facts.
The NFL had twenty teams at .500 or below. There are only thirty-two teams in the NFL, so that means five-eighths of the league was below .500.
The NY Giants lost to two of the teams the Pats beat (the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles, both of which are in the NFC East with the Giants). Most importantly, the Giants lost to every team over .500 that they played.
Week 1: Lost to Washington Redskins (5-11)
Week 2: Beat St. Louis Rams (2-14)
Week 3: Beat Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
Week 4: Beat Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
Week 5: Lost to Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
Week 6: Beat Buffalo Bills (6-10)
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Beat Miami Dolphins (8-8)
Week 9: Beat New England (13-3)
Week 10: Lost to San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
Week 11: Lost to Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
Week 12: Lost to New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Week 13: Lost to Green Bay Packers (15-1)
Week 14: Beat Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Week 15: Lost to Washington Redskins (5-11)
Week 16: Beat NY Jets (8-8)
Week 17: Beat Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
Wild Card Round: Beat Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
Divisional Round: Beat Green Bay Packers (15-1)
Conference Round: Beat San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
While the Giants have had a tougher postseason, their regular season was actually probably an easier schedule than the Pats had. They had a worse in-division record than the Pats.
All in all, to say that Tom Brady and the Patriots had an easier schedule because the teams they beat did not make it above .500 this season is just plain foolishness. The same thing could be said about Eli Manning and the Giants.
Oh, and the Giants lost to the Washington Redskins TWICE.
I think the Pats have a pretty good chance at beating the Giants. I think they are actually the better team overall, but the difference is fairly small. The Pats will still have to play their hearts out. The Giants are solid, but if the Pats show up in Indianapolis and don’t make any mistakes, they are will win.