Once in Nineteen...

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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by VikingLord » Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:13 am

mansquatch wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:20 am
If you look at Zimmer's history, He has been to the playoffs 50% of the time. 3 out of 6 seasons as Head Coach. In those appearances he has won a playoff game 2 of 3 times. The time they didn't win, was the Walsh missed 26yd field goal in 2015. So lets just round down for the sake of simplicity. In 2015 we were the 9th best team in NFL. In 2017 we were the 4th best team. In 2019 probably the 5th best team (In NFL, not NFC), despite having the #6 seed. IMO most of those estimates are conservative.
Notice anything odd about those winning seasons?
mansquatch wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:20 am
So just to be clear, when people are saying Zimmer should go, they are also saying there is someone out there who can take the above results and improve upon them. I get wanting that elusive SB win, but I'd be hesitant to assume that the grass is greener. Aside from winning the big game, Zimmer's grass has been pretty green.
You could say almost the same thing about Childress. Or Tice. Or Dennis Green. Actually, to be fair to Green, he actually put a few winning seasons together back-to-back and was competitive in an NFC Championship Game.
mansquatch wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:20 am
Another offshoot of the above. If you think Spielman is a disaster, then the above results should make you love Zimmer since he is getting such elite results while hamstrung by Rick. Or if Zimmer is a disaster then you should love Rick because he has assembled such talent as to almost overcome the coaching debacle. I humbly submit that just maybe they are both pretty good at their jobs and that is why we are getting the results we see, but I'm probably a minority on this point...
I don't think either one is a disaster per se. Both have been more or less average over their time with the Vikings.
mansquatch wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:20 am
To me the key question to ask is this: Do you think the 2017 and 2019 teams have the same post season record if they get to play at home? For me the answer is an unequivocal NO. So what is the path to improvement? I think Zimmer needs to figure out how to win 13+ games in the regular season. As I outlined in my previous post on this thread I think a significant culprit has been turnover and lack of continuity on the offensive coaching staff. At least in 2020 it looks like this will not be a factor.
Why weren't those teams playing at home? Because they laid enough eggs during the regular season to not earn home field advantage. Play more consistently during the regular season and they get that advantage. This has marked the Zimmer era - inconsistency. Between seasons, between games, and within games.

And as far as 2020 goes, if the pattern holds we're in for a down year for the Vikings.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by StumpHunter » Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:26 am

Dames wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:53 am
mansquatch wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:20 am
If you look at Zimmer's history, He has been to the playoffs 50% of the time. 3 out of 6 seasons as Head Coach. In those appearances he has won a playoff game 2 of 3 times. The time they didn't win, was the Walsh missed 26yd field goal in 2015. So lets just round down for the sake of simplicity. In 2015 we were the 9th best team in NFL. In 2017 we were the 4th best team. In 2019 probably the 5th best team (In NFL, not NFC), despite having the #6 seed. IMO most of those estimates are conservative.

So just to be clear, when people are saying Zimmer should go, they are also saying there is someone out there who can take the above results and improve upon them. I get wanting that elusive SB win, but I'd be hesitant to assume that the grass is greener. Aside from winning the big game, Zimmer's grass has been pretty green.

Another offshoot of the above. If you think Spielman is a disaster, then the above results should make you love Zimmer since he is getting such elite results while hamstrung by Rick. Or if Zimmer is a disaster then you should love Rick because he has assembled such talent as to almost overcome the coaching debacle. I humbly submit that just maybe they are both pretty good at their jobs and that is why we are getting the results we see, but I'm probably a minority on this point...
This is a tough spot, because while I agree that he has been very successful, there seems to be a really key component that is lacking. That is being prepared for the most important games. There has been a pattern of Zim's teams completely disappearing in huge games. It happened in 2017 Championship, the final game of 2018, and of course vs SF this year. It speaks to something seriously lacking when you have a pattern of abysmal performances like that. So, yeah, the overall success looks really impressive until you see how the years end.

To me, this is much like how Denny Green's career went. Amazing success, but couldn't do it in the playoffs. He was finally let go because they didn't think he would get them over the hump, even though he had an impressive overall record.
mansquatch wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:20 am
I advise patience with this offseason. Let's see what shakes out on defense once we hit free agency. There are reasons on offense to be VERY optimistic next season about this team. Defense is murkier due to the Salary Cap issues. Let's see what happens.
I very much appreciate the optimism! I am expecting good things next year for many of the same reasons you listed. I think the Offense should continue its success and hopefully even improve. I know they will be working on the defense a lot, because that is Zim's baby. He'll want to fix that. So, I do expect some results. I have a hard time buying into the next level though, for the reason I stated above.
Every game every coach has lost you could say they were unprepared. Sometimes it is true that the coach was out coached, sometimes the players have bad games, sometimes the other team just has more talent. Sometimes it is a combination

SF, Chicago and Philly had more talent the years they beat us in big games. Philly had a better game plan as well, aided by catching the Vikings off guard with Foles' first good game of the season. All three of those games the QB played a game that would have been next to impossible to win without an elite game from the RB or defense.

Those aren't the only big games of Zimmer's career in MN though. I would say GB and Seattle he did an excellent job in preparing the team in 2015. In 2017 he did a great job versus NO, and in 2019 he schooled Payton once again.

Zimmer may very well be a part of the problem with not reaching the SB and being inconsistent at reaching the playoffs. I don't think any of his teams have ever under achieved with the talent he was given though. Overachieved, yes, finished right around where they should have, but never has he had a SB caliber roster that fell short.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by Dames » Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:05 am

StumpHunter wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:26 am
Every game every coach has lost you could say they were unprepared. Sometimes it is true that the coach was out coached, sometimes the players have bad games, sometimes the other team just has more talent. Sometimes it is a combination

SF, Chicago and Philly had more talent the years they beat us in big games. Philly had a better game plan as well, aided by catching the Vikings off guard with Foles' first good game of the season. All three of those games the QB played a game that would have been next to impossible to win without an elite game from the RB or defense.

Those aren't the only big games of Zimmer's career in MN though. I would say GB and Seattle he did an excellent job in preparing the team in 2015. In 2017 he did a great job versus NO, and in 2019 he schooled Payton once again.

Zimmer may very well be a part of the problem with not reaching the SB and being inconsistent at reaching the playoffs. I don't think any of his teams have ever under achieved with the talent he was given though. Overachieved, yes, finished right around where they should have, but never has he had a SB caliber roster that fell short.
No, it's not in every game, That's fair. But, the ones that really bug me is where they are getting their #### kicked. It's one thing to lose a close one, (i.e. with Walsh in 2015), but it's entirely different, IMO, to get destroyed. Yes, SF certainly has more talent, but they were not THAT much more talented. Philly destroyed us in 2017, and I think we were probably more talented, but I would say we were at least equally as talented. Shouldn't have been a blowout. I think the Vikings had SB talent that year... especially on D. Sure, you can argue that Keenum wasn't, but neither was Foles. I'm sure the Miracle had an effect on that game... but it didn't vs SF. Nearly the same results. They got their #### handed to them again. To me, that goes beyond talent.

He's been very competitive as a coach. I don't see where he overachieved though personally. You could make an argument for 2017, but it's not like we were lacking talent that year either. Keenum overachieved for sure.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by Mothman » Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:31 am

StumpHunter wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:26 am
Zimmer may very well be a part of the problem with not reaching the SB and being inconsistent at reaching the playoffs. I don't think any of his teams have ever under achieved with the talent he was given though. Overachieved, yes, finished right around where they should have, but never has he had a SB caliber roster that fell short.
I think it's important to remember that Zimmer plays a significant role in both personnel and coaching decisions. In other words, he probably hasn't had a SB caliber roster that fell short (2017 is debatable) but he's not simply "given" these rosters. From the start, he's played a key role in determining the composition of the team. He and Spielman have different roles but they clearly work together.

In other words, if the rosters aren't up to the task... Zimmer has something to do with that.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by mansquatch » Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:14 pm

Ha, I knew the GM stuff would stir the pot. I do not find the counter argument to be at all persuasive. Twice out of the past 3 seasons they have gotten a playoff win and played in at least the divisional round. Top 4 NFL team in 2017 probably Top 5 is 2019. But the GM and HC are bad. Right... Let's just go ahead and agree to disagree there.

The question that spawned my responses was how do they get to the next level. My answer: More consistency in the regular season. Having continuity in the offensive coaching staff is probably the biggest step they could take in that direction. I'd argue that the 2 September losses can, in no small part, be directly attributed to changing over the offensive system. It took them about 4 games to get get it together in 2019. We shouldn't have that type of learning curve this year, so that should help.

IMO the offense should be better in 2020. We didn't really have full strength Thielen through most of the year, that should be improved in 2020. The younger OL players should also continue to take steps. Lots to be optimistic about on this side of the ball.

Which is good news, because Defense is the question. Who stays / who goes? What can be done to bolster the pass rush? What happens to our depth in the secondary? This is where we should be happy we have someone like Zimmer who is good at coaching guys up. My hope is the offense will be good enough to buoy the defense long enough that it can work out it's kinks before November.

We also play a 2nd place schedule so not as brutal as others.

I want to see how the draft plays out before getting too negative on this club.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by StumpHunter » Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:34 pm

Mothman wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:31 am
StumpHunter wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:26 am
Zimmer may very well be a part of the problem with not reaching the SB and being inconsistent at reaching the playoffs. I don't think any of his teams have ever under achieved with the talent he was given though. Overachieved, yes, finished right around where they should have, but never has he had a SB caliber roster that fell short.
I think it's important to remember that Zimmer plays a significant role in both personnel and coaching decisions. In other words, he probably hasn't had a SB caliber roster that fell short (2017 is debatable) but he's not simply "given" these rosters. From the start, he's played a key role in determining the composition of the team. He and Spielman have different roles but they clearly work together.

In other words, if the rosters aren't up to the task... Zimmer has something to do with that.
That is true, but the defensive drafts have improved significantly since Zimmer got here.

The biggest problem continues to be the offensive side of the football, particularly at Oline and QB (although QB has gotten better under Zim).

The marriage of a GM who's weakness is offense to go along with a HC who has the same weakness, is probably a very good reason we will never be a SB contender.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by Mothman » Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:55 pm

mansquatch wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:14 pm
Ha, I knew the GM stuff would stir the pot. That argument btw, is irrefutable. twice out of the past 3 seasons they have played in the divisional round and won a playoff game. Top 4 NFL team in 2017 probably Top 5 is 2019. But the GM and HC are bad. Right...


That's a straw man. You're contrasting your view with an unexpressed opinion. I don't recall anybody in this thread saying the coach and GM are bad. I referred to their results over 6 seasons as "good" and literally agreed with your assessment of them as "pretty good". VikingLord described them as average.

Who said they were bad?

I'm unclear on what you consider irrefutable above. Nobody is refuting their record to date.
The question that spawned my responses was how do they get to the next level. My answer: More consistency in the regular season. Having continuity in the offensive coaching staff is probably the biggest step they could take in that direction. I'd argue that the 2 September losses can, in no small part, be directly attributed to changing over the offensive system. It took them about 4 games to get get it together in 2019. We shouldn't have that type of learning curve this year, so that should help.
Maybe continuity will help but it's tough for me to buy an "adjusting to the system" argument for those two September losses. Looking back at those first 4 games (and the Giants game that followed) it seems pretty clear the Vikings scored effectively against the weaker defenses and struggled against the two better defenses they faced. I attended that Chicago game and that was clearly the case. Plus, the team didn't execute well on either side of the ball.

You make some good points about reasons for optimism on offense in 2020. We'll see...
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by Mothman » Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:09 pm

StumpHunter wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:34 pm
That is true, but the defensive drafts have improved significantly since Zimmer got here.

The biggest problem continues to be the offensive side of the football, particularly at Oline and QB (although QB has gotten better under Zim).

The marriage of a GM who's weakness is offense to go along with a HC who has the same weakness, is probably a very good reason we will never be a SB contender.
Bingo. Zimmer's a good defensive coach. Spielman has found a lot of good talent. Together, that's a combination that can get a team where the Vikings have been stuck for a while now. However, if you pul back, their jobs are bigger than building a good defense and stockpiling talent. Their job is to build a championship team and what they keep delivering are competitive but fatally-flawed teams. It's not a question of whether they're good. As Mansquatch has pointed out, that's demonstrable. To me, the key questions are:

— Are they good enough? Can they build and coach a team that will win a Super Bowl?

— How many years should they get to do that before the organization makes a change?

We're 6 years into this. That's quite a bit of time and they've been well-supported by team ownership. I would hope the clock is ticking even for optimistic Vikings fans.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by Dames » Tue Jan 28, 2020 3:44 pm

Mothman wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:55 pm
mansquatch wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:14 pm
The question that spawned my responses was how do they get to the next level. My answer: More consistency in the regular season. Having continuity in the offensive coaching staff is probably the biggest step they could take in that direction. I'd argue that the 2 September losses can, in no small part, be directly attributed to changing over the offensive system. It took them about 4 games to get get it together in 2019. We shouldn't have that type of learning curve this year, so that should help.
Maybe continuity will help but it's tough for me to buy an "adjusting to the system" argument for those two September losses. Looking back at those first 4 games (and the Giants game that followed) it seems pretty clear that the Vikings scored effectively against the weaker defenses and struggled against the two better defenses they faced in that span. I attended that Chicago game and that was clearly the case. Plus, the team didn't execute well on either side of the ball.

You make some good points about reasons for optimism on offense in 2020. We'll see...
I was hoping that the first 4 games could be explained by implementing a new system. For much of the year I thought it was the truth... until the 2nd GB and SF games, where the same issue popped back up. I don't think it's that simple. I'm not saying the offense was bad of course. There were just some clear weaknesses against a certain personnel (which I think is great interior pressure). Hopefully that issue gets corrected this off season, without weakening other parts of the team of course :)
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by Mothman » Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:05 pm

Dames wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 3:44 pm
I was hoping that the first 4 games could be explained by implementing a new system. For much of the year I thought it was the truth... until the 2nd GB and SF games, where the same issue popped back up. I don't think it's that simple. I'm not saying the offense was bad of course. There were just some clear weaknesses against a certain personnel (which I think is great interior pressure). Hopefully that issue gets corrected this off season, without weakening other parts of the team of course :)
Good point about the weaknesses. I realize every game is different but in very simple terms, it seemed to me that the book on how to beat the Vikings in 2019 was:

1.) Stop the run
2.) Pressure Cousins (especially inside)
3.) Pound the ball against the Vikings defense

Again, it's simple but when you look at some of the offensive struggles and opponent rushing yardage totals in losses this season, those things stand out to me.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by VikingLord » Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:39 pm

Mothman wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:05 pm
It seemed to me that the book on how to beat the Vikings in 2019 was:

1.) Stop the run
2.) Pressure Cousins (especially inside)
3.) Pound the ball against the Vikings defense
Along those lines, how dependent were the Vikings on Dalvin Cook being healthy and effective? I have to assume the blocking wasn't wildly inconsistent throughout the year, but the effectiveness of the running game overall seemed to be very dependent on Cook's health. When Cook was explosive and dynamic, he seemed to make something out of nothing many times. When he wasn't, the run game bogged down, and when it did the Vikings offense struggled to get first downs and therefore struggled to stay on the field, much less score.

I also base this on the fact that late in the season teams that hadn't done a great job of stopping the run seemed to suddenly be much better at it when playing the Cook-less or Cook-at-less-than-100% Vikings, namely the Green Bay Packers in the second game. One could argue the blocking regressed significantly in that game. One could also argue that Cook was not near 100% in it, as the Packers trotted the same defense and same philosophy into the second game as they did the first, but the results were dramatically different.

As far as pounding the ball against the Vikings defense, I note only that the cornerback play regressed badly this year. Waynes and Rhodes played decent against the run, but, IIRC, were among the worst in the NFL at conceding passes to the outside, especially deep passes. Thinking back to a game they won, but maybe should not have won, against the Broncos, that weakness really stood out. The Broncos were winging it down the field all day with little resistance.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by mansquatch » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:22 am

Mothman wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:55 pm
The question that spawned my responses was how do they get to the next level. My answer: More consistency in the regular season. Having continuity in the offensive coaching staff is probably the biggest step they could take in that direction. I'd argue that the 2 September losses can, in no small part, be directly attributed to changing over the offensive system. It took them about 4 games to get get it together in 2019. We shouldn't have that type of learning curve this year, so that should help.
Maybe continuity will help but it's tough for me to buy an "adjusting to the system" argument for those two September losses. Looking back at those first 4 games (and the Giants game that followed) it seems pretty clear the Vikings scored effectively against the weaker defenses and struggled against the two better defenses they faced. I attended that Chicago game and that was clearly the case. Plus, the team didn't execute well on either side of the ball.

You make some good points about reasons for optimism on offense in 2020. We'll see...
September is always a funky time in the NFL. In our case we had a new Guard and a new Center, plus a new offense and a new group of coaches. (Mostly.) That takes time to get "crisp". This was most apparent in the passing game in September. It was obvious that the team had spent a lot more time in practice developing the rushing attack over the passing game. By the early October the passing game had caught up, but it cost us two losses. Recall that in 2018 the Superbowl Champion Patriots lost a game to Detroit in September of that year. The idea that September is a weird month in the NFL isn't new, BB is well known for basically considering it an extension of the preseason. I think for us it was as well in 2019.

Main point is this year we'll be returning the same system and mostly the same guys. That can only help us going into September. I hope it does because I think the defense may experience some growing pains early this year.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by StumpHunter » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:47 am

mansquatch wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:22 am
Mothman wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:55 pm



Maybe continuity will help but it's tough for me to buy an "adjusting to the system" argument for those two September losses. Looking back at those first 4 games (and the Giants game that followed) it seems pretty clear the Vikings scored effectively against the weaker defenses and struggled against the two better defenses they faced. I attended that Chicago game and that was clearly the case. Plus, the team didn't execute well on either side of the ball.

You make some good points about reasons for optimism on offense in 2020. We'll see...
September is always a funky time in the NFL. In our case we had a new Guard and a new Center, plus a new offense and a new group of coaches. (Mostly.) That takes time to get "crisp". This was most apparent in the passing game in September. It was obvious that the team had spent a lot more time in practice developing the rushing attack over the passing game. By the early October the passing game had caught up, but it cost us two losses. Recall that in 2018 the Superbowl Champion Patriots lost a game to Detroit in September of that year. The idea that September is a weird month in the NFL isn't new, BB is well known for basically considering it an extension of the preseason. I think for us it was as well in 2019.

Main point is this year we'll be returning the same system and mostly the same guys. That can only help us going into September. I hope it does because I think the defense may experience some growing pains early this year.
The only difference between how the offense performed in game 1 against GB and game 2 is that Cook and Mattison were out and we had no run game. There was no growth from this offense the past season. They beat up on bad teams, and if the run game wasn't going, sucked against good ones for the entire year. From Atlanta to SF, that was the story of our offense.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by Dames » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:55 am

VikingLord wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:39 pm
Along those lines, how dependent were the Vikings on Dalvin Cook being healthy and effective? I have to assume the blocking wasn't wildly inconsistent throughout the year, but the effectiveness of the running game overall seemed to be very dependent on Cook's health. When Cook was explosive and dynamic, he seemed to make something out of nothing many times. When he wasn't, the run game bogged down, and when it did the Vikings offense struggled to get first downs and therefore struggled to stay on the field, much less score.

I also base this on the fact that late in the season teams that hadn't done a great job of stopping the run seemed to suddenly be much better at it when playing the Cook-less or Cook-at-less-than-100% Vikings, namely the Green Bay Packers in the second game. One could argue the blocking regressed significantly in that game. One could also argue that Cook was not near 100% in it, as the Packers trotted the same defense and same philosophy into the second game as they did the first, but the results were dramatically different.
I think you're correct and the Cook injury hurt the offense more than people realize. He was a monster in the first half of the year and after the injury the running game (and screens to RBs) took a big hit. Some of that could be defensive scheming, but you could clearly see that Cook was not the same RB at the end of the year.
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Re: Once in Nineteen...

Post by J. Kapp 11 » Wed Jan 29, 2020 11:02 am

mansquatch wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:22 am
Mothman wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:55 pm



Maybe continuity will help but it's tough for me to buy an "adjusting to the system" argument for those two September losses. Looking back at those first 4 games (and the Giants game that followed) it seems pretty clear the Vikings scored effectively against the weaker defenses and struggled against the two better defenses they faced. I attended that Chicago game and that was clearly the case. Plus, the team didn't execute well on either side of the ball.

You make some good points about reasons for optimism on offense in 2020. We'll see...
September is always a funky time in the NFL. In our case we had a new Guard and a new Center, plus a new offense and a new group of coaches. (Mostly.) That takes time to get "crisp". This was most apparent in the passing game in September. It was obvious that the team had spent a lot more time in practice developing the rushing attack over the passing game. By the early October the passing game had caught up, but it cost us two losses. Recall that in 2018 the Superbowl Champion Patriots lost a game to Detroit in September of that year. The idea that September is a weird month in the NFL isn't new, BB is well known for basically considering it an extension of the preseason. I think for us it was as well in 2019.

Main point is this year we'll be returning the same system and mostly the same guys. That can only help us going into September. I hope it does because I think the defense may experience some growing pains early this year.
Totally get what you're saying here. On the flip side, there is a danger in viewing September as an extension of preseason.

In the NFL, every game counts. Those two September losses may have cost us the division and a bye or a home game in the playoffs. In baseball, where there's 162 games, they say you can't win the season in April, but you can certainly lose it. That idea is amplified big-time in the NFL. In each of our last three playoff seasons, we started 2-2. We were able to overcome that in 2017 with an 11-1 finish, but the other two years, we went 9-3 and 8-4, respectively. Not bad, but not enough to earn a bye.

It's been well noted on this message board that in order to take the next step and actually be a Super Bowl contender, we've got to start winning the division, getting byes, and getting home playoff games. One way to do that is to stop frittering away September. Belichick can get away with it because he coaches a team in a historically weak division against teams he beats at a .781 clip. We can't.
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