NFL teams aren’t supposed to improve after losing their best pass rusher, starting running back and an All-Pro linebacker.

Apparently, the 2014 New England Patriots’ aren’t like most NFL teams.

Season-ending injuries to running back Stevan Ridley and linebacker Jerod Mayo seemed like they could be the last straw for a team that lost 41-14 on Monday Night Football just two weeks earlier. Four weeks later, the Patriots are playing their best football of the season while other top teams, like the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, are getting beaten by some of the league’s bottom-feeders.

I don’t particularly believe in peaks and valleys, and that if the Patriots are playing their best football now, they won’t be by the playoffs, but New England must find a way to maintain their success. As long as tight end Rob Gronkowski stays healthy, that might not be an issue.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag:

How did the Pats get blown out by this team getting smacked around by the Raiders? Football is confusing.

Don’t forget that the Patriots also almost lost to the Raiders, and an interception by Vince Wilfork, of all people, saved the game.

My answer? The same as yours: Football is confusing. Gronk happened, and the Patriots finally decided to use an offensive line combination that made sense. That loss to the Kansas City Chiefs looks like a gigantic anomaly right now.

What’s the reception of Blount been like in the locker room? Was he a well-liked guy last year?

LeGarrette Blount was a very well-liked teammate last season, and all of the Patriots seemed very pleased to welcome him back into the locker room Thursday.

Don’t forget that Blount received a game ball from head coach Bill Belichick after his 189-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Buffalo Bills last season. [tweet align=center]

When do we see chandler jones and Silga back?

The Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young reported Wednesday that the Patriots are hoping Jones will be back for the playoffs.

Siliga participated in Wednesday’s walk-through, but he hasn’t been activated from injured reserve yet, so I wouldn’t expect him to play this week against the Detroit Lions. The Patriots’ run defense was fantastic last week, so there’s no need to rush him back.

Did the pats and blount reach a joint agreement? its gotta be high times for blount in new england

Oh boy. ::tugs at collar::

Why don’t Patriots fans appreciate how good Kyle Arrington is?

That’s a good question. It’s been a pretty solid year for Patriots defensive backs who previously received far too much unwarranted criticism from New Englanders. Safety Devin McCourty is playing at an All-Pro level, Patrick Chung has been fantastic against the run and very solid in coverage and Arrington has been one of the NFL’s best slot cornerbacks.

He’s allowed 12 receptions on 27 targets for 160 yards with one touchdown and two pass breakups on the season. Last week, he held Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton to two catches for 24 yards.

Based on Pro Football Focus’ metrics, Arrington ranks second among 59 slot cornerbacks in snaps per target, eighth in yards per snap and 18th in snaps per target and passer rating against.

Since Arrington was so good last week against Hilton, we could see him follow around Golden Tate this week against the Lions.

How big of a role do you predict for Blount?

I think Jonas Gray will continue to be the “starting” workhorse back, while Blount likely will get five to 10 carries per game. One fumble by Gray, or one long run by Blount, could change that, however.

Chances of Ross Ventrone making a comeback to Foxboro like Blount?

The chances of Rusty Benson leaving the football field before the final whistle blows are lower than him cutting his hair, skipping trap day or admitting an attendant into Benson University.

So, low.

@DougKyedNESN Brussell sprouts or artichokes

Artichokes. I tried brussel sprouts when I was probably seven years old and I gagged. I haven’t had them since.

Once I make the decision that I don’t like a food, it will take me nearly 20 years to try it again. True story: I drank a sip of coffee when I was in third grade and didn’t have it again until I was 26.

Long division or times table

Times table.

Taking out the trash or doing the dishes

I asked for fun questions, Rich. These seems like chores. Taking out the trash, though.

Create a band using current Patriots. Is Gronkowski the lead singer or is he the bands bouncer?

Definitely the bouncer. Someone has to throw guys out of the club.

Tom Brady: one of those lead singers who also occasionally strums an acoustic guitar.
Ryan Allen: bassist. Punters are the bassists of NFL teams.
Julian Edelman: rhythm guitar. “Z” receivers are the rhythm guitarists of NFL defenses.
Devin McCourty: drums. Gotta hold down that back-end.
Darrelle Revis: lead guitar. Soloing and freelancing all the way down the fretboard.

Do you think adam vinatieri could make a 45 yard kick in buffalo right now?

I’m not sure if Adam Vinatieri could walk 45 yards in Buffalo right now.

In honour of Survivor Series, Gives us your NFL “Babyface” team & “Heel” team

For the uninitiated, a “heel” is a bad guy, and a “face” is a good guy.

Ndamukong Suh
Richard Sherman
Ben Roethlisberger
Percy Harvin
Jay Cutler
Manager: Bill Belichick

Rob Gronkowski
J.J. Watt
Peyton Manning
Vince Wilfork
Marshawn Lynch

The heels win after Belichick throws salt in Manning’s eyes, and Sherman rolls the Broncos QB up for the pin. Watt then power bombs Belichick, “Real American” hits, and the faces do Hulk Hogan’s “ear cup” celebration in the middle of the ring while Lynch sleeps under the ring.

@DougKyedNESN best beard on the pats?

C’mon. Rob Ninkovich.

CBS Boston Sports’ Michael Hurley will probably write me a strongly worded tweet for not saying Bryan Stork, though.


@DougKyedNESN gronk vs dalton from road house… who ya got?

Gronk would make a fantastic cooler, but I don’t think he’s ever ripped a guy’s throat. So, I think I have to go with Dalton here.

Thumbnail photo via Stephan Savoia/Associated Press