Although Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's streak of 30 straight regular-season home wins remains in tact, it hasn't done them much good in the postseason as of late. The Patriots are 0-2 in the only two home games that have mattered, a 33-14 blowout loss to the Ravens in the wild-card round and a disapppointing 28-21 loss to the Jets last season in the divisional round.
Compound that with New England's road struggles of late, and hope is expectedly low for this team in the playoffs. The Patriots are just 2-2 on the road so far in 2011, and though they went 6-2 on the road in 2010, they are just a .500 road team dating back to 2009 (combined 10-10, with one "road" win coming on neutral ground at Wembley Stadium).
It's not just the road losses that are disheartening and cause for concern; it's the way in which the Patriots are losing those games, giving up a 21-point lead at Buffalo in Week 3 and being manhandled in every phase of the game at Pittsburgh.
Tom hasn't been nearly as terrific on the road as he has been at home this year, throwing four interceptions against the Bills and being thrown to the sod four times against the Steelers.
The defense, however, has been horrid at home and on the road. They've allowed six of the seven quarterbacks they've faced to eclipse 300 passing yards, and five opposing teams have eclipsed 400 total yards of offense. It's no mystery that the Patriots rank dead last in pass defense; the only mystery is how it's gotten so bad. The remaining offenses on the schedule aren't terribly imposing, so the Patriots figure to get better in those categories, but beating up on bad offenses isn't exactly a great way to gear up for the stretch run in the playoffs.
Fortunately for the Patriots, there aren't very many elite teams in the AFC that will be in serious contention for the No. 1 seed. Unfortunately, they've already lost to one of those teams. While being on the road in the playoffs isn't a kiss of death on the Patriots Super Bowl dreams, their chances of winning are far better in their own backyard than in someone else's.