The New England Patriots gave another Super Bowl contender a great challenge Sunday but couldn't beat the Dallas Cowboys in a 35-29 overtime loss at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots dropped to 2-4 with the loss, including a hard-to-believe 0-4 record at home. There are 10 teams in the AFC with a better record than the Patriots.
A lot of people predicted the Patriots would return to the playoffs this season after the team's 11-year postseason appearance streak ended in 2020. In fact, the Patriots missed the playoffs just once in the 18 seasons from 2001 through 2019 that quarterback Tom Brady played at least 12 games.
The Patriots haven't missed the playoffs in back-to-back years since 1999 and 2000. They are in danger of doing it again, but there's still a chance.
Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal tweeted some interesting numbers after the Patriots' Week 6 loss to the Cowboys. History says the Patriots face a very difficult but not impossible task of reaching the postseason despite having a 2-4 record.
The most recent team to start 2-4 and advance to the playoffs was the 2019 Tennessee Titans, who beat the Patriots in the AFC Wild Card round. It was Brady's final game with the Patriots.
The Patriots play the New York Jets at home next week. That should be a fairly comfortable win for New England. After this Jets matchup, the Pats play five of their next seven games on the road, with a Week 14 bye included. They play quality opponents such as the Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers during that span.
The playoffs are still an attainable goal for the Patriots, but the margin for error has shrunk tremendously. The Patriots need to go on a run of victories or meaningful January football will elude them again.