Former head coach Urban Meyer's Jacksonville Jaguars and current head coach Bill Belichick's New England Patriots square off this week. The comparison between Belichick's Patriots and Meyer's Jaguars essentially shows an example of how to rebuild a team and how not to rebuild one.
One would think there are no similarities between the two teams. However, there is a pretty significant angle of symmetry between Belichick's Patriots and Meyer's Jaguars. Looking back, both teams have beaten the same number of teams that currently have a seed in the playoffs.
What does this mean? Are the Patriots further behind in their rebuild than the last couple of months have led the NFL to believe?
Belichick vs Meyer: Two teams lacking quality wins
Interestingly, the Jaguars' only two wins have come against teams currently seeded in the playoffs. In 2021, the Jaguars beat the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills. Both teams have been some of the hottest in the NFL but have also gone ice-cold.
The Dolphins had a seven-game losing streak at one point. Since starting 1-7, the Dolphins have since ripped off seven wins in a row to sneak into the seventh seed. The Jaguars helped extend the Dolphins' losing streak earlier this season.
Meanwhile, the Bills had their own slide after starting 4-1. After a four-game winstreak, the Bills slipped to 9-6 over the proceeding months. During the slide, the Jaguars beat the team 9-6 in one of the biggest upsets of the year.
At the end of this loss, the Bills seemed to be on their way out of the playoff picture. However, in recent weeks, they've rebounded and now find themselves in first place in the AFC East. The Jaguars have lost every other game since. This means the wins for the Jaguars have come against teams that were beating themselves routinely and were well within a slump.
Meanwhile, the Patriots have an equal number of wins against teams currently holding onto an official playoff seed. The Patriots have beaten the Bills and Titans. The Tennessee Titans currently hold the second seed in the AFC.
The Titans are another team that has had hot streaks and cold streaks in 2021. The Titans started 8-2, thanks to a six-game winstreak after starting 2-2. Since then, the Titans have been hit with one of the worst injury bugs in the league this season. Derrick Henry, AJ Brown, and Julio Jones have gone down with health issues.
The Titans immediately dropped back-to-back games as they reeled from the injuries. One of the games was against the Houston Texans and the other was Bill Belichick's New England Patriots.
Belichick's other win was against the Buffalo Bills. That win came in a windstorm, and the Patriots only threw the ball three times. They've since played the Bills again and lost the second game.
What does this mean for Belichick's Patriots and Meyer's Jaguars? Are they closer in talent than it, otherwise, seems? Put simply, there is still a wide gap between where the two franchises are, despite starting in a similar rebuilding spot at the start of the offseason. While Belichick and Meyer have both beaten two playoff-ready teams, Belichick has also beaten a slew of non-playoff teams. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have not won another game.
In the NFL, the quality of wins does not matter. It mostly doesn't matter who the opponent is or what the final score is. To make the playoffs or assess the quality of one's football team, they need to have routine wins. In other words, quantity trumps quality. One or two wins against the best teams in the NFL and failing to beat anyone else doesn't mean a team is "good."
To make the playoffs, teams have to win many games. They cannot win only a handful, cite the strength of the opponent and sit back. They must win week after week. Belichick's Patriots have done that routinely this season, and Meyer's Jaguars have not. That is why one team is in the hunt and the other is not as December becomes January.
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