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Bill Belichick's fate not yet decided, could hinge on how Patriots finish 2023 season

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The fate of Bill Belichick as head coach of the New England Patriots has not yet been decided.

While the expectation is that a decision on his future will play out over the next month, sources also say it could take longer than that.

As the Patriots are set to play the Chiefs on Sunday, they'll do so on a one-game winning streak during a season in which wins have been few. If they make it two in a row, that could change things.

Sources say not only has owner Robert Kraft not come to a firm conclusion on what will happen next with his head-coaching situation, but the way New England finishes could go a long way in determining what's next.

If they beat the Chiefs on Sunday and run off a string of wins, that could lead to the kind of hope and good feeling that can change minds and make an owner who believed his team should be a playoff team feel like it's headed in the right direction.

If New England suffers a performance like the Chargers did against the Raiders before head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco were fired on Friday, that could solidify minds as well, but in the other direction.

Either way, expect a period of evaluation when the regular season ends, with no immediate conclusion on Belichick coming.

Belichick, who signed a lucrative new contract prior to the season that locks him up beyond 2023, was asked this week about a report from NBC Boston that his future was decided after their loss to the Colts in Germany.

"Yeah, getting ready for Kansas City," Belichick said. "That's what I'm doing."

There are endless options for how this plays out in New England, according to sources.

Firing Belichick outright appears to be the least likely. A potential mutual parting would be an option. The Patriots could also hope to receive compensation from another interested team in exchange for the rights to Belichick, but the coach would have to be on board with whatever options there are. Or, Belichick could stay for the 2024 season.

Sources say Belichick has not changed the way he is with players, coaches or executives, never discussing himself and preparing for this year and next year as he always does. That should come as no surprise. But it also offers no hints of what's to come.

During the Annual League Meeting back in March, Kraft ramped up playoff expectations for an organization that has only been there once since the 2019 season -- Tom Brady's last in New England. Kraft said at the time that he still believes in Belichick.

"We're about winning and doing whatever we can to win," Kraft said in March. "That's what our focus is now. It's very important to me that we make the playoffs. That's what I hope happens next year."

Instead, it's been the organization's worst season since at least 2000. The team was eliminated from the playoffs on Dec. 10, the earliest they've ever been during Belichick's tenure. They've had injuries to many of their best players. They also benched starting quarterback Mac Jones amid the worst season of his young career.

All of that has led to nonstop speculation about the future of arguably the greatest coach of all time. Their win last week on a short week on the road against the Steelers, was a perfect example of how winning can change things. It left everyone a good mood.

If the Patriots string a few of those together, it could have a dramatic impact on what's next for New England.

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