It was ugly. And if the Pats were playing another team, it probably would have been a loss. Instead, the Patriots came back from a 17-0 deficit and with that win clinched a first round bye.
I've been saying it for weeks now. The Patriots' success and failure is determined by how well the offense does. The defense is what it is. In the Buffalo loss, Brady threw 4 picks. In the Pittsburgh loss, the offense struggled to get first downs. In the Giants loss, the Pats turned the ball over 4 times.
In Saturday's game, we saw the offense struggle in the first half, and the team was doomed. In the second half, the offense did well, and the team looked great. The Dolphins helped by turning the ball over. That's what alarms me. If the Patriots offense has a bad half, or faces a good pass rush, and they're playing a quality team, will they be able to come back? Can they depend on unforced turnovers in the 2nd half?
For this team to make a deep playoff run, the offense has to be amazing. And they have to be at least good on just about every drive.
They've got a bye, which is huge. It's advancing a round in the playoffs before the playoffs even start. But they need to play better if they want to advance. And it's not the defense that needs to improve (I'd argue that they can't improve), it's the offense.
Pats host the Bills on Sunday and can clinch the #1 seed and homefield with a win. I'm sure the Pats will also be looking to get a measure of revenge for their 34-31 loss to Buffalo in September.