By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

I’m thinking of making this a weekly feature, but we’ll have to see if all future games really ARE important first.

It Might Be Halloween, But Sunday Is No Holiday For The Patriots

Though there is an NFC opponent on the schedule this week, here are several reasons why it is very important that the Patriots win this game:

As the Minnesota Vikings come to Gillette on Halloween, the Patriots sit at an unexpected 5-1, tied with the New York Jets in the AFC East, and also tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jets for the best record in the AFC and in the NFL.

They need a win to keep pace with those two teams, with the Jets playing the Green Bay Packers at home, and the Steelers heading to New Orleans to face the Saints. The Jets and Steelers could easily win those games.

The Patriots need to beat the Vikings because the Jets have already beaten the Vikings. Should the Patriots and Jets finish in a tie for the AFC East, one of the tiebreakers (after head-to-head and divisional records, I believe) is common opponents. If you believe the Patriots will beat the Jets at home in December, the two teams could well end up tied in head-to-head and divisional records. It may come to common opponents. The Jets one loss thus far is to the Ravens, whom the Patriots have beaten. Thus they need to keep beating the teams that the Jets have beaten in order to preserve that tiebreaker.

In the AFC, there are two teams at 5-2 – the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans. The Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans (who play each other) and the Kansas City Chiefs are all 4-2. The Patriots need to avoid getting that second loss this week to keep themselves ahead of these teams.

The Patriots need a win at home to extend Tom Brady’s regular season home winning streak (23 games), as well as their own, (12 games). The Patriots have not lost at home during the regular season since losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette on November 30th, 2008.

The Miami Dolphins are playing at Cincinnati this weekend, and it would be nice for the Patriots to put some further space between themselves and Miami, which has been a strong-finishing team in recent seasons.

The Patriots need to win this one to shove it up Brad Childress’ keister for bring up the specter of Spygate.

The Patriots need a win to keep confounding and silencing the likes of Michael Felger, Tony Massarotti, Bob Neumeier, Ron Borges, and Albert Breer.