The New England Patriots are used to resting while other teams battle it out on the first weekend of the NFL postseason.
The Patriots have secured 12 first-round byes dating back to the 2001 campaign, including an active streak of eight consecutive seasons.
Boomer Esiason, however, believes New England will be tasked with having to play in the Wild-Card round come January.
During an appearance Monday on WEEI’s “Mut & Callahan,” Esiason explained why he believes the Patriots won’t be able to pick up a first-round bye this season.
“I know every game they go into, they are the marked team,” Esiason said, as transcribed WEEI. “Everyone wants to measure their success against what the Patriots bring to the field every single week. I know they have the second-easiest schedule from here on in. They should be 12-4, 11-5. They probably will have a home playoff game in the wild card round. They will probably end up playing Tennessee, or somebody like that, or believe it or not, Miami. It could be Cincinnati, it could be Baltimore again. There’s a lot of weird things that still have to happen at the bottom of the playoff food chain in the AFC.”
New England does have a pair of objectively tough matchups left on its regular-season schedule: a Week 13 clash with the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium and a road tilt against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15.
The Patriots also face stiff competition in trying to earn a first-round bye. The Kansas City Chiefs are on a fast track to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC, while the Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers and Houston Texans all sit at 7-3. The Steelers, meanwhile, currently have a slight edge for the No. 2 seed at 7-2-1.
Esiason likely is correct in projecting that a lot of “weird” things will happen, but the Patriots, obviously, could do themselves a massive favor by winning out.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports
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