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Bills Sweep Pats. Yup. 2020.


You know the scene in Elf, when Buddy leaves the North Pole in search of his dad? He steps onto floating chunk of ice, drifts off onto the sea, uncertain of where he’s going but trusting that the floating block will somehow get him through Canada to New York City. “Floating into the Abyss” would be the title of the Patriots 2020 highlight tape, you know if they still made highlight tapes. I was reminded of this scene over and over Monday night as the Patriots played the first meaningless game in the history of Gillette Stadium. (The last time the Patriots played a home game with ZERO playoff ramifications it was in 2000 when they went 5-11, in the old Foxboro Stadium.)

Monday night was the official changing of the guard in the AFC East, as the Bills roughed up their big brother for the first time. The upstart Bills look like a true contender and play with the confidence of a team that has, you know, won a playoff game before (they haven’t). There are stages of growth, last year the Bills made the playoffs and lost to the Texans in the first round. (Read that sentence back, the Texans and Bills are as opposite as sugar cookies and fruit cake. I got a fruit cake this year, I have no idea what to do with it but I’m thinking I’ll tie a rope to it at the top of the stairs and if any burglars try and break into my house I’ll swing it at them like paint cans at the Wet Bandits.)

Now the Bills have vanquished the Patriots, sweeping them for the first time since 90210 was relevant and I talk about the Bills as a means to avoid talking about the Patriots. I really can’t watch Cam Newton play football anymore, he has the pocket awareness of a baby kangaroo: he knows this pocket exists, but beyond that it’s left handed, upside down, mandarin hieroglyphics.

My buddy Sam texted me during the final moments of the competitive phase of the Patriots 38-9 defeat (which occurred in the 2nd quarter) to state that he was only staying up to see if Stidham entered the game. Jarrett Stidham did enter the game and actually completed a few passes, mostly check downs to James White. With one game left in the season, it feels like you have to play Stidham. There is no chance of going .500, no playoffs to contend for, Newton is gone after 4:30pm next Sunday so you might as well get the other Auburn kid some reps.

This may be my general pessimism about the Patriots right now, but I don’t believe Stidham is the answer either. He looks tentative, his passes lack zip although most quarterbacks look like they’re armed with Daisy Red Rider’s opposite Josh Allen’s Howitzer. Ahead of the most loaded quarterback draft in years (on paper), the Patriots owe it to themselves to do their own due diligence on what they already have before they go shopping for the future. It’s like when you were a kid and wanted Frosted Flakes at the store and your mom reminded you of the half box of Cookie Crisp in the cupboard you begged for last week. Jarrett Stidham is our Cookie Crisp, we haven’t found if there is a toy in the box or if it’s some sort of “proof of purchase, eat 3 boxes of garbage, mail away, 6-8 weeks delivery” kind of deal, but right now he’s growing stale in our cupboard.

One thing I’m thankful for football-wise is that the Jets have won 2 games in a row and Trevor Lawrence isn’t coming to the AFC East any time soon. Though a more immediate fear is bubbling below the surface: what if the Jets get to 3 wins this season? Can the Patriots lose to Adam Gase’s New York Jets at home in week 17? They absolutely can. 3 weeks ago the Patriots pasted the Chargers 45-0 and fans were talking about playoffs, while the Jets were firing Gregg Williams for calling a zero-blitz in a horrific loss to the Raiders. Now the Jets have won 2 in a row, the Pats have dropped 3 in succession and suddenly we’re a human, raised by elves, setting sail on a block of ice, with a snow globe for a GPS, while a Narwhal wishes us well on finding out if Sonny Corleone is our real father.

We knew when Tom Brady left that this day would come.

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