Five fast facts while the Patriots have their second straight day off.
-The Patriots made rookie cornerback Darius Butler inactive Sunday even though he was not injured, Bill Belichick said. Butler played in 13 of the first 14 games this season, missing only Week 3 against the Falcons.
-The Patriots will make the playoffs as either the third or fourth AFC seed, and history favors the fourth seed. Since 1990, two NFL teams have made the Super Bowl as a No. 3 seed. Five have made the Super Bowl as a No. 4 seed, including the Cardinals last year.
-Defensive coordinator Dean Pees believes the Patriots improvement owes in part to a surge of confidence. “I think we kind of lost it a little bit there midway in the season," Pees said. "We had a couple rough goes at it. I think anytime that happens, your confidence gets a little bit down. Once you start coming back and then having some success, that confidence grows. When that confidence grows, the energy grows, and then everybody kind of feeds off of it.”
-Over the past three weeks, the Patriots have allowed 27 points and 888 yards. No team has allowed fewer points over that span, and only the Jets and Ravens have allowed fewer yards.
-Tom Brady had his most accurate passing day of the season Sunday, completing 23 of 26 passes, good for 88.5 percent. One week earlier against the Bills, Brady had his least accurate day of the season. He completed 11 of 23 passes, 47.8 percent. The Jacksonville performance was his most accurate day of his career*; the Buffalo game was his fifth-least accurate.
*We're talking regular season here, as one commenter dutifully noted.