Patriots loss intentional?

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Brady takes a sack in Sunday's 20-10 loss in Miami.

Liam Flaherty, Sports Writer

Sunday’s 20-10 loss to the 6-10 Dolphins handed the Patriots their fourth loss of the 2016 season. The loss concludes this year’s regular season as well as a recent stretch of six games in which the Pats lost all but two. After starting the year 10-0, injuries and poor play have caused the team’s record to drop to 12-4.

To add insult to injury, the Broncos Sunday night win against the Chargers pushed the Pats out of the AFC’s top seed and down to the second. The late drop forces the Pats to take on a higher seed opponent when the divisional round takes place.

Ultimately, the Pats head into the playoffs with a first round bye, awaiting the decision of their divisional opponent. The game played January 16th in Foxborough could feature either the Bengals, Texans, or Steelers, all dependent on what happens over this Wild Card weekend.

Losing to a team like the Dolphins who, out of playoff contention, had nothing to play for, has a lot of people wondering if the Patriots intentionally dropped their regular season finale; in order to avoid playing the Steelers early in the playoffs. If they secured the victory in week 17 and moved to 13-3, the Pats would have locked up the one seed and most likely have had to play the Steelers in their first game.

Every year in the NFL playoffs, there’s a certain team that most would rather stay away from; the wild card team that could surprisingly beat the best. This year in the AFC, the Steelers’ corps of star wide receivers, including Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, makes them that team.

But, with their loss and the Broncos 27-20 comeback win over the Chargers, the Patriots don’t have to worry about playing the Steelers in the first round. Hopefully getting most of their injured players back, the Pats may need a week to really get back into the flow of the things. Playing a team like the Chiefs or the Texans would be a much better matchup for the Pats than the high-powered offense of the Steelers.