The Patriots are down, but they’re not out.
New England has dropped three of its last five games with three contests remaining on its regular-season schedule. The Patriots likely have squandered their chance of owning the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, but they still control their own destiny as it pertains to grabbing No. 2, which would signal a first-round bye and at least one home playoff game.
As such, we probably shouldn’t listen to the Jason Whitlock’s of the world who already have ruled out a Super Bowl LIV title for Tom Brady and Co. But where do the Patriots stack up against the other legitimate championship contenders? NFL.com’s Adam Schein currently tabs New England at No. 6 on his list of teams most likely to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.
Bill Belichick is the best coach ever. Tom Brady is the best quarterback ever. But the latter is hardly apparent in 2019.
New England’s offense has major problems. And we’re 14 Sundays into the season — it’s not changing. Over their last five games — three of which were losses — the Patriots have averaged just 17.6 points per outing. Tom Brady looks 42. The chemistry with receivers just isn’t there. Neither is the talent. New England never replaced Rob Gronkowski. Fullback James Devlin hit injured reserve in September. The offensive line isn’t good. The run game has been a major disappointment, with the Pats averaging just 3.5 yards per rush (tied for 29th). Yes, the officiating was awful on Sunday, but this is the bottom line: New England has now played the other three AFC division leaders, and the Pats are 0-3 in those games.
It’s obviously unwise to fully dismiss the Belichick/Brady Pats, but they look quite vulnerable at this moment.
There’s no denying the Patriots currently appear vulnerable, but the same could be said at this time last year, and we all know what happened the last time New England was dealt back-to-back December losses. There’s a lot of work to be done in Foxboro, but as Schein mentions, it’s tough to completely doubt the greatest head coach-quarterback duo of all time.