Last 5 Games for New England: Patriots the NFL's Best at This Time of the Year

Jerry TappSenior Analyst IIINovember 29, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 18: Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Bruce Arians of the Indianapolis Colts after a Patriot win at Gillette Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

With three Super Bowl titles and five appearances in that game since 2001, and a league-leading record of 147-56 since 2000, it's pretty obvious that the New England Patriots have been the NFL’s best franchise this century.

So what has been the reason for their success? Bill Belichick taking over as head coach in 2000? Tom Brady becoming the team’s starting quarterback during the 2001 season?

There are probably a handful of other reasons in addition to the two men listed above, who have led the team in the past decade-plus. But let me offer another reason for the Patriots’ success: The Patriots have been great finishers.

Thursday night's game starts the last five weeks of the 2012 regular season. If you look at the last five games of each season since 2002, the Patriots have compiled a 42-8 record in those 50 games, by far the best record in the league. This .840 winning percentage in the final five games of the season from 2002-11 shows that the Patriots have been a team that finishes the season on a high note.


Following are the number of wins for each NFL team in the last five games of the season over the past 10 years (50 games).


42: New England

36: Pittsburgh

35: Philadelphia, San Diego

33: Indianapolis

32: Green Bay

31: Baltimore

30: Carolina

28: Tennessee

26: New Orleans, Seattle

25: Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco

24: Chicago, New York Giants, New York Jets

23: Arizona, Cincinnati, Denver, Kansas City

22: Houston, Jacksonville, Minnesota

21: Dallas

20: Buffalo, Washington

19: Tampa Bay


16: Cleveland, St. Louis

15: Oakland

14: Detroit


Here are a few more stats regarding the last five games of the season over the past 10 years:

* Fifteen different teams went 5-0 in the last five games of the season since 2002. As you might expect, the Patriots accomplished this four times (2003, 2007, 2010 and 2011). The other teams: San Diego (2006, 2007, 2009), Miami (2005, 2008), Indianapolis (2008), New Orleans (2011), Philadelphia (2006), Pittsburgh (2004), Tennessee (2002) and Washington (2005). Of these 15 teams that went 5-0, 14 of them made the playoffs that year. The only exception was in 2005 when the Miami Dolphins went 5-0 to end the season but did not make the playoffs.

* Of the 20 teams that have played in the Super Bowl in the last 10 years, three went 5-0 in their last five games, seven went 4-1, seven went 3-2 and three went 2-3.

* The three Super Bowl teams that went 5-0 were the New England Patriots of 2003, 2007 and 2011.


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