The New England Patriots have a chance to make the AFC playoffs, but it's not a good one.
Most statistical models, including FiveThirtyEight's, give the Patriots less than 15 percent odds to earn a postseason berth.
Regardless of how many wins the Patriots stack up over the final five games, the most important thing for this team throughout the rest of the season is finding out what they have in the young players drafted in recent years.
It's no secret the Patriots haven't drafted particularly well of late. The quickest and most effective way to rebuild is through the draft. That's how you stockpile young, talented players on team-friendly contracts who provide valuable depth or, in some cases, play pivotal roles on a consistent basis.
Even though the Patriots haven't aced the last couple drafts, some of the recent players selected have impressed at various points this season. Phil Perry pointed out a few of them during the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, including 2020 second-round pick Kyle Dugger.
"Kyle Dugger -- really good athlete, really important piece to a game plan against a mobile quarterback, something that's becoming a weekly occurrence in today's NFL," Perry said. "He's going to be a player (for this team). We've seen flashes from him, but to see him think his way through the game and understand what the game plan is and understand, 'Ok, I'm a run force player, I need to keep things inside, I understand what this offensive lineman or tight end is trying to do to me and I need to make him do the wrong thing. He plays mean, but he's a smart defensive back.
"And for him to make that leap that he's made from (Division II) Lenoir-Rhyne with no offseason, essentially, and make some of the plays he's made, is a really positive sign for me. He can do a lot of different things for this defense. He's a guy you build around."
On the flip side, Perry was not impressed with 2019 first-round draft pick N'Keal Harry's Week 12 performance against the Arizona Cardinals. The Arizona State product has tallied just 24 receptions for 213 yards and one touchdown in his second pro season.
"We also learned about N'Keal Harry. I thought this was one of the worst games I've seen from N'Keal Harry because of the little they were asking him to do, I don't think he executed nearly often enough," Perry explained. "You see a slant that's a little bit off target and it goes through his hands -- OK -- but that's who he's supposed to be, he's supposed to be a contested catch guy. He's not a separation guy. He's supposed to be making those plays. He picked up another penalty as a blocker. Just plain whiffing on blocks where he's kind of the most important blocker on some of those toss plays that the Patriots run over and over again. You mention he was (in a fullback role), and even in that role he didn't perform (on Sunday)."
Also in this episode: Curran and Perry break down the Patriots’ 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Should the Patriots move on from Cam Newton next season? Should Bill Belichick experiment with a platoon system with Jarrett Stidham for the rest of this season?