Patriots-Ravens: Is New England Practicing on Gameday?

Chris Radez@@ChrisRadezSenior Writer IDecember 4, 2007 11 weeks of the NFL season, it was all but confirmed that the New England Patriots were completely unstoppable.

Other than the Colts, no team in the league had even come within 17 points of them.

Now that they've clinched their division, though, the Pats are suddenly struggling to beat mediocre teams like the Eagles and Ravens.

Or are they?

People will tell you the Eagles and the Ravens pressured Tom Brady more than other teams have—but if you've been watching the games, you know that isn't the case.

Opponents have been blitzing Brady since the beginning of the season—and his completion percentage actually tends to go up when he's under fire.

With Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker, Ben Watson, Jabar Gaffney, Kevin Faulk, and Laurence Maroney all at Brady's disposal, I don't see why these last two games should have been any different from the first 10.

Unless of course the Pats are keeping it close on purpose.

Is it all some kind of preparation for the playoffs? Could Brady be intentionally holding onto the football longer than he needs to?

I watched Faulk run out of bounds a full yard shy of a first down on the final drive on Sunday. That's not characteristic of him—and it epitomizes how the Pats have been playing for the last two games.

I wouldn't put this sort of ploy past Bill Belichick—especially if he thought it would make his team better prepared.

Then again, this could just be my way of coping with the near-losses in back-to-back week—or maybe I just had too much eggnog last night.

My gut tells me to go with the eggnog.