NFL Standings: New England Clinches No. 1 Seed; Belichick Showing His Genius

When the New England Patriots signed former free agent wide receiver Michael Floyd to the roster on December 15, 2016, not too many questioned New England coach Bill Belichick’s decision making. Many times, they never question it. Michael Floyd was released by the Arizona Cardinals following a DUI arrest December 14 and obviously, New England acted quickly. Floyd’s addition was evident today, January 1, 2017, as the New England Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 35-14. Floyd was on the field for 50 snaps, made three receptions and caught one touchdown, ending the day with 36 total yards. New England also locked up a number one seed in this seasons NFL playoffs. New England, a member of the AFC, has locked up its sixth number one seed since the NFL began seeding in 1990. All six seeds have come under Bill Belichick.

New England Patriots' Bill Belichick
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots walks the sidelines during his team's NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. New England won 23-21. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Belichick is quick to give a troubled player a second chance, but also quick to release one, too. For someone such as Floyd, hard work will have to be a variable for Floyd to stay around. From this article via ESPN, it appears Floyd not only isn’t worried about 2017, but he’s not worried about anything unless it concerns learning the New England playbook.

This is why some in the Patriots’ organization were so excited when Floyd unexpectedly became available in mid-December, as it was a position of need, and Floyd was probably going to be on their free-agent target list after the season anyway, even given a legal situation with the DUI arrest. So the Patriots’ thinking essentially was, “Why not start the process now?”

When I asked Floyd a few days ago whether he’d thought about a potential return with the Patriots in 2017, he smiled and said he was so committed to learning the playbook that he didn’t have time to think about anything else. He’s been living in a hotel nearby Gillette Stadium, and he said that if he’s not there, he’s at the stadium.

His hard work showed on Sunday.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick [Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images]

This is perhaps what makes Bill Belichick the revered coach he is to the NFL. For New England, Belichick has won with a variety of players, coaches and with different offensive and defensive philosophies. Belichick’s forward thinking has made the NFL have to play catch up with not only the New England Patriots, but to his coaching standards. New England will enter this years playoff as a favorite to win the AFC. Also, it must be noted that New England is performing this seasons feat without the assistance of Rob Gronkowski, who is on injured reserve for the rest of the season with a back injury. In this article on the Boston Herald, writer Karen Guregian writes on how the Patriots offensive playmakers have stepped up in Gronk’s absence

And that’s translated on the field. Brady’s cast includes a trio of receivers (Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell) that have combined for nearly 2,000 yards, a pair of running backs in James White (530) and Dion Lewis (90) who have combined for 600 more receiving yards, and a tight end (Bennett) who is closing in on 700 yards.

And that doesn’t even take into account 1,000-yard rusher LeGarrette Blount, who has 17 touchdowns, and Mr. Clutch Danny Amendola (24 catches, 243 yards), who’s currently hurt but has been a key contributor on third down and will be a go-to guy for Brady again if he returns.

With a 14-2 record, Bill Belichick has made sure New England has stayed on the right path to be comfortable in the playoffs. New England’s perhaps biggest test could be from the Kansas City Chiefs or the Pittsburgh Steelers. But if you look at Belichick’s track record and New England’s success, it will be hard to overrule New England as title favorites.

The New England Patriots, along with the Kansas City Chiefs will have a first round bye. New England will face the winner of the Oakland Raiders/Houston Texans match-up, while Kansas City will face the winner of the Miami Dolphins/Pittsburgh Steelers match-up.

[Featured Image by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images]