By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots are not playing good football at the moment. Bill Belichick hopes that changes when the calendar flips from December to January.

Belichick’s focus is always to have his team playing its best football when it matters most, and that time is now. Unfortunately, the Patriots have now dropped two straight to fall from the top seed in the AFC to the sixth seed, and Sunday’s home loss to the Bills gave control of the AFC East to Buffalo.

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This is about where most fans were hoping the Patriots would be this late in the season; a Wild Card team with a chance to make some noise in the playoffs. It was a reasonable expectation for a team with a rookie quarterback, but New England’s seven-game win streak lifted those expectations a bit. The two-game skid has everyone back in reality, with the team now 9-6 on the season.

For Belichick, he’s hoping his team can bounce back over the final two weeks — with a home game against the 2-13 Jaguars and a road tilt against the 7-7 Dolphins — and finish the regular season feeling good about themselves heading into the postseason.

“There’s still a lot of football left to play,” Belichick told WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show on Monday morning. “We’ll see how things go here. Hopefully we can play our best football in January. That’s what we need to do, and that’s what we’re planning to do. We’re going to work hard and try and do that. As you said, the last couple of weeks have been disappointing, but we’ll turn the page here and move on to Jacksonville this week and the last game and see where things are at that point.

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“There’s still a lot in our control. I think before we write the finale to the season, we’ll see how we finish playing,” Belichick added. “These are the most important games of the year.”

The Patriots just need to take care of business and they’ll be in the playoffs. But the last two games have not painted a pretty picture for the team. After dominating during that win streak, the defense has looked extremely average the last two weeks, including an embarrassing performance against Buffalo on Sunday. The Patriots let the Bills go 6-for-12 on third down and 3-for-4 on fourth down, which did not sit well with Belichick.

“That was really the story of the game,” he said during his Monday morning video call with reporters. “And we were 1-for-10 on third down. Obviously, we have to do a better job in both areas.”

After breaking down game film from Sunday’s loss on Monday, the Patriots will then shift their focus to the Jaguars. Even after two straight losses that have seen them fall in the standings, the goal for the Patriots remains the same.

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“Have a good week of preparation and go win on Sunday,” Belichick said Monday.

CBSBoston.com Staff