OK, fess up: Who put a hex on the New England Patriots’ wide receiver corps?

Was it Brandin Cooks? Was it Danny Amendola? Ever since the 2017 season, the Patriots’ wide receivers are seemingly cursed. The Patriots have not been able to catch a break since shipping Cooks off to the Los Angeles Rams.

Just when it seemed the Patriots were in good shape at wide receiver with Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, Phillip Dorsett, N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers, Sanu injured his ankle, and Dorsett suffered a concussion.

Now we’ll seemingly have to wait a few more weeks to see the Patriots’ offense at full strength, if they can ever get there.

@DougKyed I know you’ve gotten this a lot and are sick of it but in all seriousness, pending on the nfl’s decision, do you see Brown in a Pats uniform again?
— @LoganAguire
After the Patriots signed Antonio Brown, I’ve learned not to rule anything out, though multiple reports suggest New England won’t be bringing him back.

I did find it interesting that former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi entertained the idea Wednesday.

I’m sure Tom Brady and the rest of the offense would love to have him back. Brown might even be able to cheer up Brady after the QB’s despondent news conference Sunday.

It basically would come down to if Kraft could forgive Brown and if head coach Bill Belichick would be OK with the distraction. Because Brown is one hell of a distraction. He’s also one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. It’s a real Sophie’s choice.

However, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported Thursday night they don’t plan on signing him, and I still don’t think it happens.

If Sanu and Dorsett are both out this week, who needs to step up the most: Watson, Harry or the running game (White/Michel)?
— @pereira_report
Maybe Ben Watson. Watson already was the Patriots’ second-leading receiver in Week 11. If Watson can continue to increase his production from the tight end position, then that would be huge for the Patriots’ offense which could be out a couple of wide receivers this week.

Everyone needs to step up, though. That includes Harry, Meyers, Edelman, James White, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and anyone else who is active.

Watson could be key down the stretch, however.

Do you see 50/50 balls or jumpballs being part of the game plan for Harry? Didn’t see any of those against the eagles.
— @Chris_Chrome508
I think Brady typically likes to avoid 50/50 balls because they’re inherently risky. But Harry is a powerful receiver, and I think he could box out some smaller defensive backs given the chance. Harry seemingly has dropped some weight since the summer, but he still looks like he could line up at sub-linebacker in a pinch.

I think Harry will be most heavily utilized on slants, curls, comebacks and some nine routes.

Brady only really targeted Harry in safe environments Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. It seems he still needs to gain some trust from Brady.

Kinda a crazy question . Do you think the Injuries at WR could be a Blessing for the Pats?
Makes the Young Wr’s play more and what Better way to see what they Got? This could be their Time!!
— @Pats62
Short answer: no.

Sanu’s injury is in no way a blessing in disguise because he still needs to get fully acclimated into the offense. Any time missed is detrimental to the long-term outlook for the Patriots’ offense this season.

That being said, it should help Harry and Meyers get acclimated. The Patriots would probably prefer not to have to throw those young wide receivers into the fire, however. They might have to jump into the deep end this week, while the Patriots probably would prefer to keep wading them into the kiddie pool.

What’s your prediction for the Dallas game?
— @andrewsilbert
The Cowboys might actually be more talented than the Patriots. But it’s a major coaching mismatch between Belichick and Jason Garrett, as NESN.com’s Zack Cox mentioned on this week’s NESN Patriots Podcast.

So, I think the Patriots win. It probably won’t be pretty, and the Patriots’ defense will need to dominate. But I think the Patriots come through with the win.

Biggest surprise and biggest letdown of the season so far? #maildoug
— @JaredDrisco
Biggest surprise: Jamie Collins. I certainly didn’t expect him to be this disruptive in his return to the Patriots. I thought he would be competing for a role. I was wrong.

Biggest letdown: If we don’t include Michael Bennett, who is now a member of the Cowboys and will play against his former team this week, then I’ll say Sony Michel. I think we all expected Michel to be able to build upon last season’s production. That has not been the case, and he’s recently been receiving less and less of a workload in recent weeks.

Is Tom Brady still an elite QB? If not, what’s different this year?
— @theomanix
Yes, based on recent history. He won a Super Bowl last season.

If you’re only looking at quarterbacks through the scope of this season or the last few weeks, then the answer would be no. Brady has struggled, compared to his past performance, this season. That’s pretty much undeniable. He’s 14th in Pro Football Focus‘ adjusted completion percentage metric and 26th in passing under pressure.

But I prefer not to be short-sighted whenever possible. I know, it’s just a weird personality quirk.

I think we’ve seen some decline from Brady, but most of his issues are related to lack of talent/depth at receiver, tight end and on their offensive line.

People forget Brady was fantastic through the first three weeks of the season.

Let’s go rapid fire.

Could Dwayne Allen be a possible/acceptable late-season FA addition ? Do you have any news on his health status ? PS Count me in on the “Oreos are brown” bandwagon. You’re welcome. #MailDoug
— @sebbehn
He’d probably be an upgrade over Ryan Izzo, but if Izzo isn’t going to be active anyway, then it might take another injury before the Patriots kick the tires on someone like Dwayne Allen.

And thank you. Oreos are brown. They’re not black.

With only 8 seconds or so in the Steelers/ Browns game why were the Steelers passing and putting players at risk when they were down down by 14 points. If they had taken a knee the whole ugly episode would not have happened. I can not imagine BB or Josh ordering a pass.
— @kayli024
I agree. The Patriots would have been running the ball there.

I wonder if Brady was getting the “high ankle sprain” vibe in the locker room before his presser the other night? Could explain his mood if Sanu was going to miss time.
— @ChefMichaelM1
It’s certainly possible that played into it.

— @thisryanjackson
I’ve had a pretty productive day. I went to Trader Joe’s and Target, got a haircut, and now I’m at Gillette Stadium working on the mailbag. Later, I’ll do some more work then watch “Thursday Night Football.”

Next game you think we’ll lose?
— @TornAchillesJim
I could see them losing to the Houston Texans after Thanksgiving if Sanu is still out.

Brand New or Taking Back Sunday?
— @Meghan_Ottolini
This is an extremely difficult question.

I only like Taking Back Sunday’s first full length. I only ever got into Brand New’s first two albums. I know people love Brand New after “Deja Entendu” but I never cared.

I think “Deja Entendu” is a better album than “Tell All Your Friends.” But, I think “Tell All Your Friends” has stronger overall songs, like “Cute Without The E” and “Great Romances.” Those are two of the best songs from that entire scene.

I’m going with Taking Back Sunday while acknowledging that Brand New has two albums that I like and the better overall album. The allegations against Jesse Lacey didn’t help Brand New.

Also, I like Straylight Run more than Taking Back Sunday’s second album. Is that a hot take?

NSYNC or Backstreet Boys?
— @DLPatsThoughts
BSB. They had better songs.

Where’s my debit card??
— @ArtfulTakedown
Did you check the jacket you wore on Saturday?

Now watch this week’s full mailbag video:

Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images