One could argue the New England Patriots’ Week 4 showdown with the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium marks the most important regular-season game of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.
Sure, that sounds like hyperbole. But a loss this Sunday would drop the Patriots’ record to 1-3, while the Dolphins would improve to 4-0 and secure an early-season stranglehold on the AFC East.
The ramifications of a New England loss also go beyond the record. The Patriots have dominated the division for the better part of two decades, so falling three games behind the Dolphins could cause mass hysteria in Foxboro, where there have been reports of tension over the last several months.
Nick Wright explained Friday on FS1’s “First Things First” why he believes such panic would be completely justifiable. After all, the Patriots aren’t used to failure, and a loss to the Dolphins would signify a problem bigger than just a slow start by New England.
The Patriots looked like their usual selves in Week 1, defeating the Houston Texans 27-20 behind a strong effort from Brady. New England since has suffered back-to-back losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, though, and there’s a definite sense of uneasiness as the sputtering Patriots prepare for this Sunday’s crucial divisional showdown.