They have a week and a half to flip the switch.

The Patriots have once again earned a bye through the first round of the NFL playoffs. They’ve also earned the concern of fans throughout New England after losing four of their final six regular-season games. They finished the season with back-to-back road losses against divisional opponents and looked like a demoralized team as they packed up and headed home to Gillette Stadium.

Gillette, of course, was unavailable for those two games because it had been transformed from a football field to a hockey rink. That conversion didn’t go too well, either, as the Boston Bruins turned in their worst performance of the year in a 5-1 loss to Montreal in the Winter Classic.

Speaking of conversions, the Patriots can’t seem to convert a third-down opportunity. They were 5 for 24 in third-down attempts against a pair of defenses that won’t be playing again until next September.

The Patriots feel they can rest up, heal up and turn up the intensity when they return to the field on Jan. 16. They believe the return of Julian Edelman will bolster the offense sufficiently, and that a healthy Dont’a Hightower can help settle a defense that allowed a woeful Dolphins team to take control of the fourth quarter. They believe their championship pedigree and big-game experience will lead them to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California.

They’ll have to play more like the team that started 10-0 and less like the 2-4 team we’ve watched in recent weeks to get there.

We’ve seen other teams do it. Just last year, the Chicago Blackhawks sputtered into the playoffs with a record just marginally better than .500 in the final 45 games of the season. That 23-18-4 mark down the stretch had people wondering if the Blackhawks could win a playoff series, let alone a Stanley Cup. Chicago had the fifth-worst offense in the NHL after the All-Star break that year, and there seemed to be little chance it could win a third Cup in six years.

Two months later, the Blackhawks did exactly that.

In 2011, the Bruins lost nine of their final 17 regular-games (four of them in overtime or a shootout). Members of the Boston media were calling for the firing of Claude Julien. Julien, of course, is still coaching the Bruins. He got a nice contract extension after that 2011 Bruins team brought the Stanley Cup to Boston for the first time in 39 years.

Hockey teams aren’t the only ones known to flip a switch when it matters.

In 2007, the Boston Red Sox stormed out of the gate and built a double-digit lead in the AL East by the end of May. Theo Epstein had retooled the roster with young talent in the wake of the remarkable championship of 2004, and Terry Francona knew he had a team that could play deep into October.

Francona’s faith never waivered, even as the Sox lost eight of their last 15 games. Their lead dwindled to two games. When the Sox trailed Cleveland three games to one in the AL Championship Series we thought the end was near.

Josh Beckett thought otherwise, pitching eight strong innings in a 7-1 Game 5 win. J.D. Drew hit a first-inning grand slam in Game 6 and the Sox outscored the Indians 23-4 in the final two games. The Colorado Rockies had no chance in the World Series and Boston won it all with a sweep.

The Patriots still have the game’s best quarterback, an unstoppable force in Rob Gronkowski, and a coach who has two weeks to plan. While they have struggled in meaningless games over the past month, they’ve got a roster full of players who know what it takes to win in the playoffs.

Great teams can flip the switch when needed. We’ll find out if this is a great Patriots team soon enough.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.