FOXBOROUGH — With Sunday's convincing 38-3 demolition of the bags-packed Jets, the 2018 regular season is in the books for these New England Patriots.
Now, they get to write their own history in the postseason.
Regular-season records like this year's 11-5 mark are certainly a job well done. The excellence has been sustained for so long around here many have forgotten what even a 9-7 season feels like. It has, after all, been 17 years since the last one. As someone who has covered two other teams and the league previously, 10 wins for that long is truly impossible to comprehend.
But this franchise is different than any other. Regular seasons are mere tune-ups for the real season, the postseason. That's where Patriots teams are judged.
Bill Belichick hasn't been coaching for this long, grinding the tape, parsing league rules for the slightest of edges and anticipating what will come five games down the road to celebrate 11-5 and a victory over the Jets, who will once again be searching for another coach in the offseason. Tom Brady isn't playing at age 41, avoiding nightshades like the plague, guzzling gallons of water (with TB12 electrolytes, of course) and texting Josh McDaniels at all hours of the night about that week's gameplans just to win the AFC East, win a playoff game in Foxborough and go home.
No, Belichick, Brady and the entire Patriots organization do what they do for one reason only: to win championships. The seasons that don't result in a Lombardi Trophy aren't outright failures, but there is severe disappointment at One Patriot Place.
Obviously, no one knows how this season will end. Things can change quickly due to injury (like Rob Gronkowski in 2011) or even the bounce of the ball. But with 16 games in the books, there are things that we know about this Patriots team that will factor heavily into the ultimate outcome, and there are things both the Patriots and their fans hope will happen for them to reach their ultimate goal.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE PATRIOTS