New England Patriots

Winning is bottom line for Pats, ugly or not

Anyone watching Monday Night Not Ready for Primetime Football must concede the following:

Neither team looked particularly imposing,

Scratch that … neither team looked good … or even pretty good.

Both suffered breakdowns on both sides of the ball. Both took their share of penalties rooted in sloppiness. Both coaching staffs made some really asinine decisions.

But the Patriots scored 27 points and the Cardinals scored 13. It went in the books as a win for the Pats, who today own the lead wild-card spot in that proverbial “If the season ended today” world.

Troy Aikman offered a sneer when he pointed out that “They are contending for a wild-card spot but they don’t look like a playoff team tonight.”

Aikman was right.

Who cares?

At 7-6 the Patriots are rated No. 15 in the ESPN Power Rankings.

So what?

The driving force for all playoff contenders is the will to win games. Winning pretty doesn’t factor into the equation. Teams vying for the Division I college football championship have to worry about style points; NFL playoff teams don’t.

Would the Pats have won Monday night had Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray not gone down with a torn ACL? Probably not. Arizona put its offense in Colt McCoy, whose presence on a football field has been mostly irrelevant since he left Texas 16 years ago.

Big deal.

Mac Jones’ frustrations with the Patriots’ play calling boiled over a month ago and remains bubbling. His latest sideline hissy fit confirms that he often considers Matt Patricia’s commands nonsensical.

Players have yelled at coaches before.

Jones has struggled through his second NFL season. Blame poor coaching, an offensive line that was iffy before injuries devastated it and too many exasperating attempts to thread a needle to a receiver being defended by two or more men.

Several QBs who would have to pay their way into the Hall of Fame have won Super Bowls. Consider Trent Dilfer, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien, Nick Foles …

(Oops; sorry about that bad memory.)

When the season began it said here that the Patriots would win eight or nine games. Considering their remaining schedule, it could be more.

Mid-range teams are eligible for the playoffs. Occasionally one gets hot at just the right time and makes a little run before fading away.

These Patriots are battered, bruised and completely baffling.

But as of today, they are a battered, bruised and baffling playoff team.

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