FOXBOROUGH – The New England Patriots’ season won’t come to an end if they lose to the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, but it certainly seems like a game they can’t lose. Or in other words, it’s a must-win.
The Patriots are 6-6 and are on the outside looking in of the playoff picture entering Week 14. They’re also coming off two straight losses, losing both games in different fashions. They lost a relatively high-scoring affair to the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving before falling to their division rival Buffalo Bills decisively.
With 11 days in between their games against the Bills and Cardinals, the Patriots have had extra time to let their losses sink in. That has Patriots star outside linebacker Matthew Judon feeling urgent to get back on the field and play again.
“We’re ready to play some more football, Judon said. “It’s tough when you come off back-to-back losses and you’ve got a little bit of time. But right now, we’re just ready to get back out there. We’re going to be on the West Coast for a little minute. So, we’ve got to get the job done – kind of like a basketball tour. We’ve got to get the job done. We’ve got to be professionals and handle our business.”
Monday’s game against the Cardinals is the first of back-to-back games for the Patriots on the West Coast. Following that game, they’ll stay out there ahead of their Week 15 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Judon doesn’t disagree with the notion that every game feels like a must-win game moving forward, but also wants to keep things one game at a time.
“Yeah, of course [it feels like a must-win], especially when you’re still in the hunt and when you’re still in the hunt and you’re one of those teams still in the hunt,” Judon said. “There’s going to be a lot of stuff that’s not up to us, that’s kind of the situation that we’re in. What’s up to us though, we’ve got to handle. We’ve got to get these two wins, but right now, we’ve got to focus on Arizona and go get one win.”
The Patriots are currently the first team on the outside looking in at the playoff picture, so they don’t necessarily need too much to happen around them in order to get in at the moment. But Judon wants the rest of the Patriots squad to just focus on their business and they’ll later hope that things will figure themselves out.
“It’s all about this week,” Judon said. “When you start trying to step back and look at the whole picture and figure out where y’all going to be and who you need to win or who you need to lose and what you need everyone else to do, you kind of tend to lose what you’ve got to do.
“Right now, we’ve got to focus on what we’ve got to do to be successful to win games. That’s what we’re doing. So, we’ve got to go out there and do our job. We’ve got to go out there and execute. We’ve got to go out there and win those games. There’s a lot of stuff that’s not in our play, but we’re not going to worry about that. We’re going to worry about what we can do.”
Patriots safety Devin McCourty simply stated that “all five games are important,” especially to any team that’s looking to make the playoffs.
“No matter what your record is, whoever you are in the NFL right now, you want to start winning these games because everybody’s playing for something,” Devin McCourty said. “You’re playing for a chance to play more than five games. Some teams are playing for a chance to be at the top of their conference.
“It kind of splits into the teams that are and aren’t playing for something. It’s obvious. You don’t want to fall into that category. I’ve been in that situation one time in my career. So, it’s important to just start winning these games.”
Devin McCourty on if Monday’s game against the Cardinals is a must-win for the #Patriots: “No matter what your record is right now, you want to start winning these games.”#ForeverNEpic.twitter.com/mkJTW8Y05f
— Conor Roche (@ConorRoche27) December 8, 2022
Despite sounding all business at the podium, both Judon and McCourty are keeping loose, too. Judon rocked a pair of Rutgers shorts, which is where McCourty played college football at, joking that he found the shorts near the trash. McCourty heard about what Judon said and joked back that he hadn’t seen merchandise of Judon’s school, Grand Valley State University, in the locker room. Judon came back to the podium during Devin McCourty’s time speaking with reporters to hand him a shirt.
— NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Coverage (@NBCSPatriots) December 8, 2022
The Patriots’ defensive stars know though they can joke and keep loose when they’re off the field. Come Monday night though, it’s time for them to be serious again as they enter the most important stretch of games this season.