New England Patriots: Predicting the Final Five Games

Chuck Platt@chuck_plattCorrespondent IINovember 28, 2011

New England Patriots: Predicting the Final Five Games

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    The calendar will flip to December before the Patriots play their next game next Sunday at home versus the Colts.

    After a terrific road win versus the Eagles, the Patriots are within sniffing distance of the AFC East title, up two games on the Jets with five to go. The two AFC byes will also need to be sorted out over the next month, as New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston all stand at 8-3 through Week 12.

    Here are my predictions for the Patriots' final five regular-season games. 

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Vs. Colts (Dec. 4)

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    The Patriots' next opponent is the 0-11 Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are right on track in the "Suck for Luck" sweepstakes. They kept their winless ways going on Sunday with a 27-19 loss at home to the Panthers.

    Needless to say, Patriots fans can look forward to plenty of Manning Faces along the Colts sideline next Sunday.

@ Redskins (Dec. 11)

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    The Washington Redskins have a little momentum at the moment after a big road win at Seattle, which comes on the heels of a hard-fought overtime loss at home to the Cowboys.

    The Redskins face the Jets in the Meadowlands next week before hosting the Patriots. The Redskins are not total pushovers, but even in their house, they are not a legitimate threat to a Bill Belichick team in December.  

@ Broncos (Dec. 18)

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    A trip to Mile High to face Tim Tebow and the Broncos is arguably the toughest game left on the Patriots' schedule. It could also be a playoff preview.

    Denver has now won four in a row, a streak that includes beating every division opponent on the road and a prime-time defeat of the Jets in Denver.

    Tebow has been winning games with his feet as much as with his relatively unproven arm. Facing him will be one of the more intriguing matchups of the season for a Patriots D that still ranks last in passing (307.5 YDS/G) but is a respectable 12th against the rush (102.4 YDS/G).

Vs. Dolphins (Dec. 24)

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    The Dolphins lost their first seven games before visiting the win column Week 9 versus the Chiefs. Since then, Miami has gone 2-1, beating the Redskins and Bills and losing oh so narrowly to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. 

    In between now and their Christmas Eve trip to Foxboro, the Dolphins host the Raiders and the Eagles and travel to Buffalo.

    Under Matt Moore, Miami isn't the same hapless team they were over the season's first couple of months, but it's not like they are world conquerors, either. Conventional wisdom says the Fish will get squished at New England in December. 

Vs. Bills (Jan. 1)

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    The Patriots conclude the regular season at home versus the Bills as they look to avenge their Week 3 drubbing at Buffalo.

    The Bills have lost their last four since starting the season 5-2. Their December schedule is no cakewalk, with home dates versus Tennessee, Miami and Denver and a road game at San Diego.

    Even if the Patriots have nothing to play for, expect them to trounce the Bills on New Years' Day. 

Patriots Go 4-1 to Finish at 12-4

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    If my predictions hold true, the Patriots will go 4-1 over their final five games to finish at 12-4.

    I believe that they will clinch the AFC East in their penultimate game, the Christmas Eve home date with Miami.

    With the way things are presently bunched at the top of the conference, it will be interesting to see if the Patriots can grab a bye. Losing one of these final five games may cost them such a chance.

    I see the Patriots finishing second in the conference behind the Steelers, who do also happen to hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots via their Week 8 win at Pittsburgh.