Why a Patriots losing streak should worry opponents

Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots rarely lose two games in a row. Three-game losing streaks are nearly unheard of in their past 15 seasons.

In fact, the Patriots have played 213 consecutive games without having a three-game losing streak. Elias Sports Bureau research notes that that is the second-longest streak without losing three straight games in NFL history behind the San Francisco 49ers, who went 292 games without three consecutive losses from 1980-99.

The Patriots, who have fallen outside the top two teams in the ESPN NFL Power Rankings for the first time since Week 9 of last season, have quickly turned things around after losing streaks in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era.

Righting the ship

This is the seventh time the Patriots have lost two games in a row in a regular season since Brady’s first career start in Week 3 of the 2001 season.

New England’s last losing streak of three or more games came in 2002 when they lost four in a row. They responded by winning five of their next six games, including a 38-7 win against the Buffalo Bills immediately following the losing streak. That team lost back-to-back games again in Weeks 15 and 16 before a Week 17 overtime win against the Miami Dolphins.

In 2006 the Patriots dropped two straight games to the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets. They quickly turned things around with a 35-0 win against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Brady threw touchdown passes to four different receivers. New England won eight of its nine games following the two-game skid with a point margin of plus-102.

The Patriots followed up a two-game losing streak in 2009 with a three-game win streak where they outscored the Carolina Panthers, Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars by an average of 15 points per game.

Back-to-back losses in 2011 were followed by 10 consecutive wins for the Patriots. Six of those wins were by 18 or more points. Their next loss that season was to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

The most recent losing streak prior to the current one happened in Weeks 2 and 3 of 2012. New England won 12 of its next 14 games, averaging 37 points per game with an average scoring margin of plus-16 in those games.

League context

The four-game losing streak in 2002 is New England’s only regular-season losing streak of three or more games in the past 15 seasons. The Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers have the second-fewest three-game losing streaks in that span with seven each.

The average for a non-New England team is 14 three-game losing streaks dating back to 2001.

There have been 22 losing streaks of three games or more in the NFL in 2015. Three teams have more three-game losing streaks this season than the Patriots have in the past 15 seasons.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect changes provided by the Elias Sports Bureau regarding the longest and second-longest streaks of games without a three-game losing streak.