Patriots

Here's how Patriots have fared after a bye week under Bill Belichick

Here's how Patriots have fared after a bye week under Bill Belichick

Giving a legendary head coach like Bill Belichick an extra week to prepare for an opponent has been a real advantage for the New England Patriots.

The Patriots are coming off a Week 10 bye and will travel to Lincoln Financial Field for Sunday's much-anticipated Week 11 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, who also had a Week 10 bye.

The defending Super Bowl champs are 8-1 and sit atop the AFC standings, but they have only a 1-game lead over the Baltimore Ravens for the No. 1 seed in the conference. The Eagles, meanwhile, are 5-4 in a first-place tie with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East race.

Let's break down the numbers for the Patriots coming off a bye during Belichick's first 19 seasons as the team's head coach.

Win/Loss record: 14-5
The Patriots have a .736 win percentage under Belichick in their first game after a bye. Tom Brady's record following a bye is 13-4. He was one of the backup quarterbacks in 2000 and was injured in 2008. The Patriots had an 8-game win streak following a bye snapped in 2011 with a loss to the Steelers. New England is 6-3 coming off a bye this decade. 

Here's a full breakdown of the Pats' results after a bye.

2000: 16-13 loss to Buffalo Bills
2001: 38-6 win over Carolina Panthers
2002: 24-16 loss to Denver Broncos
2003: 12-0 win over Dallas Cowboys
2004: 31-17 win over Buffalo Bills
2005: 21-16 win over Buffalo Bills
2006: 28-6 win over Buffalo Bills
2007: 56-10 win over Buffalo Bills
2008: 30-21 win over San Francisco 49ers
2009: 27-17 win over Miami Dolphins
2010: 23-20 win over Baltimore Ravens
2011: 25-17 loss to Pittsburgh Steelers
2012: 37-31 win over Buffalo Bills
2013: 24-20 loss to Carolina Panthers
2014: 42-20 win over Indianapolis Colts
2015: 30-6 win over Dallas Cowboys
2016: 31-24 loss to Seattle Seahawks
2017: 41-16 win over Denver Broncos
2018: 27-13 win over New York Jets

Most Common Opponent: Buffalo Bills
The Patriots have played their AFC East rivals six times after a bye in the Belichick era, with the last such meeting coming in 2012. New England is 5-1 in these games versus Buffalo.

Margin of Victory
The average margin of victory in the Patriots' 14 wins after a bye since 2000 is 17.42 points, which is a pretty strong number. The most lopsided win came in 2007 when Tom Brady and Randy Moss destroyed the Bills 56-10 on "Sunday Night Football." Moss tallied 10 receptions for 128 yards and four touchdowns. 

Upcoming Schedule
The bye came at a perfect time for the Patriots because their schedule is about to get much more difficult. New England's next four games are against playoff-caliber opponents, and the outcome of this stretch probably will determine whether the Patriots secure homefield advantage throughout the postseason.

Here's a look at the upcoming schedule for the Pats:

Week 11: at Philadelphia Eagles (tied for NFC East lead)
Week 12: vs. Dallas Cowboys (tied for NFC East lead)
Week 13: at Houston Texans (AFC South leader)
Week 14: vs. Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West leader)

The Patriots finish the regular season with games against the winless Cincinnati Bengals, the 6-3 Bills and 2-7 Dolphins over the final three weeks. So, if they go 3-1 or 4-0 during the next four games, the schedule is set up nicely for them to secure a first-round playoff bye.

Pats vs. this NFC team is most likely Super Bowl matchup, per odds>>>

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Report: Raiders prepared to offer Tom Brady two-year, $60 million deal

Report: Raiders prepared to offer Tom Brady two-year, $60 million deal

We have an actual dollar figure attached to the swirling rumors of various Tom Brady free agency landing spots.

The Brady-to-Las Vegas speculation has been out there since TB12 was spotted chatting up Raiders owner Marc Davis at the Connor McGregor-Cowboy Cerrone fight in Vegas last month. Now, veteran NFL reporter Larry Fitzgerald Sr. (father of the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver) reports that Davis' Raiders are prepared to offer TB12 a two-year, $60 million deal.

It's interesting to note that Larry Fitzgerald Jr., like Brady, is a long-time interviewee of Jim Gray on Westwood One's broadcasts of Monday and Thursday night NFL games. 

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While Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Super Bowl Sunday that the Patriots are willing to go beyond $30 million a year to retain Brady, it's unclear if New England would make a multi-year offer, since the face of the franchise, who'll turn 43 in August, essentially worked under a one-year deal this past season. 

Our Tom Curran has reported that while the Patriots will "extend themselves" financially to retain Brady, money is likely not the most important factor to the QB.

As Curran wrote Friday:

The persuasion in the Patriots pitch has to revolve around "who" and not "how much." The team that Brady plays for in 2020 won’t be the winner of a bidding war, it will be the one that provides the best ready-made landing spot to compete for a championship and have a shitload of fun while doing it.

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In Tom Brady's case, are NFL tampering rules made to be broken?

In Tom Brady's case, are NFL tampering rules made to be broken?

If Robert Kraft ever commissioned a sculptor to carve “10 Patriots Commandments” you’d be sure to find, “Thou Shalt Not Tamper With Our Employees” somewhere on that stone tablet.

Throughout Kraft’s ownership and Bill Belichick’s stewardship of the football operations, loyalty has been rewarded and betrayal punished.

From January 1997, when the Jets were monkeying around with Bill Parcells when the Patriots were getting ready for Super Bowl 31 against the Packers, through June 2019, when the Texans made their overtures to Nick Caserio, the Patriots have made one thing very clear: they aren’t going to be patsies when it comes to other teams trying to lure their people away.

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Which brings us to Tom Brady. As everything does. Do the Patriots care that a stealth parade of suitors is probably all up on him already?

Is this uber-protective organization fine with half of the league’s teams sniffing under the tail of the most important player in franchise history before they’re supposed to?

Rampant tampering with prospective free agents isn’t the NFL’s dirty little secret.

It’s not dirty since it’s somewhat necessary.

It’s not little since every team does it.

And it’s not even treated as a secret.

This week, the estimable and honorable Tedy Bruschi was asked about Brady on ESPN.
 

“I think he’s gonna see what’s out there for himself,” said Bruschi. “Matter of fact, I know he will. But I don’t think he’s going to have to wait until March 16 because you’ve got agents, you’ve got talk going on behind the scenes and I think he has an idea on the teams that are highly interested in him ... He will explore his options and he has the right to do so.”

The question then becomes what’s the league office going to do about it?

We all know the NFL’s penchant for selective rules enforcement. We all know they’ll happily string the Patriots up for transgressions real or imagined and let them twist in the wind. We all know the so-called Spygate II investigation that could have been cleared up in 20 minutes is still ongoing.

So, even if everybody’s doing it, isn’t it a little (a lot) hypocritical for the league to turn a blind eye to teams crawling up the trellis to slip in Brady’s window after dark?

Yes, it is. But a little hypocrisy never slowed the league down from doing anything.

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Besides, they might say, tampering with Tom Brady is actually a victimless crime. It actually does the Patriots a favor.

If Brady and his agent Don Yee have a sense of what’s out there before they start negotiating with New England, then the need for Brady to go on a free-agent tour is eliminated.

If Team Brady has no clue, then Yee starts from scratch when the legal tampering period begins March 16 at noon. 

There’s no way to vet each of the opportunities -- a source close to the situation figures there will be 10 teams expressing interest -- before free agency starts March 18 at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, how are the Patriots supposed to convince free-agent tight ends or wideouts to come aboard if those players don’t know whether or not Tom Brady will be a Patriot? It’s easily argued that outside teams tampering with Brady is in the Patriots’ best interests.

Besides, if this really isn’t about the money -- and I’ve been told often enough that it isn’t -- it won’t matter if some crap-ass team is offering $70 million over two years.

The persuasion in the Patriots pitch has to revolve around "who" and not "how much." The team that Brady plays for in 2020 won’t be the winner of a bidding war, it will be the one that provides the best ready-made landing spot to compete for a championship and have a shitload of fun while doing it.

All that said, it will still seem odd to me if the Patriots -- whether it be Kraft or Belichick -- don’t somehow have their sense of honor offended by all the predicted sneaking around.

It’s always offended their sensibilities going back to January 1997 when it came to light that Bill Parcells spent the week leading up to Super Bowl 31 ringing up the Jets from his New Orleans hotel room instead of getting the Patriots ready to play the Packers.

The Krafts were apoplectic. Belichick, an assistant on that 1996 Patriots team, was pissed too.

"Yeah, I'd say it was a little bit of a distraction all the way around," Belichick told our Michael Holley for Holley’s book Patriot Reign. "I can tell you first hand, there was a lot of stuff going on prior to the game. I mean, him talking to other teams. He was trying to make up his mind about what he was going to do. Which, honestly, I felt [was] totally inappropriate. How many chances do you get to play for the Super Bowl? Tell them to get back to you in a couple of days. I'm not saying it was disrespectful to me, but it was in terms of the overall commitment to the team."

Every situation’s different, I guess. In this case, the tampering rules were made to be broken.