For years, the New England Patriots’ regular season has been a rather ho-hum affair.
The Patriots started the season knowing they were a lock for the playoffs unless Tom Brady got hurt.
The other three teams in the division haven’t had a franchise quarterback to match Brady since he arrived on the scene in 2000.
But things are different this year. For the second time in three games, the Patriots are playing a regular-season game with a lot on the line.
First, Miami came to Foxboro on Sept. 30 at 3-0. The Patriots were 1-2. A loss to Miami would have dropped them three games behind the Dolphins
But it turned out the Dolphins were no match for the Patriots, who routed them to virtually wrap up the AFC East title.
They have four division games left against the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, but those teams both have rookie quarterbacks and appear no match for Brady. And the rematch against the Dolphins doesn’t seem to be a problem.
But now the Patriots face another big game — against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.
The Chiefs come in at 5-0, while the Patriots are 3-2. A Chiefs victory would give them a three-game lead in the AFC battle for homefield advantage in the playoffs.
Overcoming a three-game deficit – four games if you count the head to head tie-breaker – would be a challenge for the Patriots, although the Chiefs started out 5-0 last year and lost six of seven.
Of course, Bill Belichick refuses to acknowledge that there are any homefield playoff implications in this game. He is only focused on one game at a time. His mantra this week was that they are playing Kansas City.
It brings back memories of 2014, when the Patriots were routed by the Chiefs to fall to 2-2 and there were concerns they were finally in decline. Belichick’s mantra was that they were “On to Cincinnati.’’
They routed the Bengals to get back on track.
Now we’ll see if the Patriots can beat the high-flying Chiefs.
They know that a loss in this game would like mean that if they play the Chiefs in the playoffs, the game would likely be in Kansas City.
For the sixth game of the season, it could be a pivotal one for both teams.