Is Stephen A. Smith off-base with this Patriots take?


Not everyone is buying in on the New England Patriots after their 54-13 evisceration of the New York Jets Sunday.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith laid out his reasons Monday morning on First Take, saying that despite the presence of Bill Belichick and the week to week progression of Mac Jones, he doesn't see New England finishing any better than 9-8 due to its schedule.

"I don't think they're going to the playoffs," Smith said. "Just from a scheduling perspective and the fact that they're not the most talented group in the world."

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Smith said that he sees "at least" four more losses on the schedule for the 3-4 Patriots, who are now done playing the Jets. 

"You've got a road game against the Chargers up next; I believe that's a loss," Smith said. "You've got a road game against Carolina, you could potentially win that. You've got Cleveland after that, which I think could potentially be a loss even though it's at home. You've got a game against Tennessee, two against Buffalo and the Indianapolis Colts coming up."

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Despite the pounding of the Jets, it's not impossible to see where Stephen A. is coming from. Of New England's three wins, two were against the Jets and one was against the Houston Texans -- owners of the two worst point differentials in the NFL. Since the start of last season, the Patriots are 4-0 against the Jets and 6-13 against everyone else.


But New England might be catching the Chargers at the right time, after Los Angeles had given up 76 points over its last two games (1-1) prior to its bye week. Plus, the Patriots routed the Chargers on the road last season, 45-0, with Cam Newton at quarterback.

We'll see if Stephen A. is changing his tune on the path to the postseason for New England in a few weeks. For what it's worth, FiveThirtyEight gives the Patriots just a 26% chance of making it to the playoffs.