Something rare happened in Week 14: the New England Patriots actually won a game. Thursday's 21-18 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers was something that Patriots fans were waiting a long time for (seven weeks, to be exact) and it's given some of the fanbase a sense of optimism as the 2023 NFL season nears its end.
As for how rest of the campaign will play out, here's a look at New England's remaining schedule:
- Week 15: vs. Kansas City Chiefs
- Week 16: @ Denver Broncos
- Week 17: @Buffalo Bills
- Week 18: vs. New York Jets
While it's been nice celebrating a win for the first time in nearly two months, ending the regular season on a high note — especially against the above teams — is another question. After all, the Patriots have yet to win back-to-back games this season, meaning a single victory isn't enough to erase the 13 previous weeks' shortcomings.
With that in mind, here are five Patriots who are still on the hot seat over the next four games.
5 Patriots on Thin Ice Over Final Four Games
1. Bill Belichick
It isn't a secret that Belichick has been on the hot seat throughout the 2023 campaign. Despite all he's done for the franchise, fans have grown increasingly frustrated by his decisions on and off the field, which both played a role in the Patriots' abysmal 3-10 record through Week 14.
Belichick deserves credit for overcoming the Steelers on Thursday, but that's hardly enough for the fanbase to start believing in him again. Even after the win, New England is still scoring the fewest points (13.0 PPG) with the fourth-worst average scoring margin (minus-7.9 in the NFL).
The final four games of the year will reveal whether or not Belichick has much of a future with the Patriots. New England will most likely be the underdog in each of those matchups, meaning the 71-year-old head coach must find a way to stay competitive in each outing if he wants to keep his job.
While hanging with teams like the Chiefs and Bills will be tough, it's worth noting that seven of the Patriots' 10 losses this year came by only one possession. If Belichick can figure out how to keep that trend going, Robert Kraft & Co. might be inclined to give him another shot.
Otherwise, it could be a sad ending to one of the best coaching career's in league history.