Patriots Talk: Previewing a pivotal stretch for New England

Will Pats sneak into playoffs? Previewing the pivotal stretch ahead originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots begin a crucial stretch when they visit the Minnesota Vikings on Thanksgiving Night.

After beating the New York Jets in Week 11, the Pats own a 6-4 record and a wild-card spot in the AFC. Their schedule only gets tougher from here on out, so they will need to step up their game if they hope to stave off their competition for a playoff berth.

Curran: Are the Patriots 'good?' No, but at least they're interesting

So, how can we expect the latter part of the Pats' season to unfold? On a new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran looks ahead to the final seven games on the schedule and explains what needs to be done for New England to secure a spot in the postseason.

Patriots Talk: It’s showtime for the Patriots vs. the Vikings | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"They're going up against better teams and the teams that aren't good that they're going up against, they have to visit on the road. Arizona and the Raiders," Curran said. "When you look at the final seven games the Patriots have, there's five losses on there. On-paper losses: Bills twice, Miami at home, Minnesota, and the Bengals. The Patriots are 6-4. There's four-and-a-half losses there so the Patriots are going to have eight-and-a-half losses unless they flip one of those games. That's a .500 team and that's basically what the Patriots are: a dead mediocre, not bad, not good team.

"Which games are they gonna flip to get themselves into the playoffs? Could it be Cincy? Certainly a half a flip. Could it be the Miami game in the second-to-last game of the year at Gillette Stadium? OK. I don't know if it's going to be the final game of the year if Buffalo has something to play for, which they most likely will because of their record right now. Can't count on beating them in Buffalo.

"So Minnesota, without its left tackle, with an offense that puts up numbers against middling teams but has also been squelched by good ones with good pass rushes, i.e. the Cowboys. This game is flippable. To get to 10 wins or even nine wins, you have to flip some of those four-and-a-half to five likely losses into wins."

The Patriots-Vikings Thanksgiving Night showdown is set for an 8:20 p.m. ET kickoff in Minnesota.

Also discussed in the episode: Getting to know the Vikings. How will the Patriots slow down Justin Jefferson? Is Kirk Cousins still a good comp for Mac Jones? And Irrelevant Questions with Jonnu Smith.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network, or watch on YouTube.