Pats in progress
The Patriots just made writing this column a lot easier. All I’ve heard for the past week is how the Pats have the best record in the NFL and are destined for another Super Bowl title and maybe even another dynasty. Sunday’s dismal performance against the Browns may halt that talk a little, but if I know Patriots fans, the New England faithful still believe the Brady Bunch can bring home another title. If that is to happen, the Patriots will have to improve exponentially.
Before Sunday, the Patriots owned the best record in the NFL at 6-1. But records can be deceiving. The six wins came against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-5), the Buffalo Bills (0-8), the Miami Dolphins (4-4), the Baltimore Ravens (6-2), the San Diego Chargers (4-5) and the Minnesota Vikings (3-5). That’s one victory against a winning team. Add to that the 34-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns (3-5), and 6-2 doesn’t look that impressive.
The Patriots defense thus far has been abysmal. The unit has shown its youth and inexperience, giving up 384 yards of offense per game, which ranks 28th in the league. They have given up 22 points per game, which is 21st in the league. Sunday’s loss came against a Browns team that entered the game ranked 28th in total offense and 31st in points scored per game. A team near the bottom of the pack in these two categories does not sound like a team that can win it all.
The Patriots have been able to get six wins because of their supposedly strong offense. But how strong is it really? Before putting up just 14 points on the Browns, the Patriots were ranked first in points per game (they will certainly fall in this ranking). Once again, this statistic is deceiving. The Patriots are only producing the 19th most total offense per game in the league. This statistic also fails to investigate the quality of the defenses on which New England has scored. They put up 38 points on the 24th-ranked Bengals defense and 38 on the last-placed Bills defense. All in all, the Patriots have only faced two teams (the Ravens and Jets) that have a defense ranked better than 14th in the NFL. Against these two teams, the Patriots averaged only 18.5 points per game as opposed to their 33.6 points against their five other opponents.
The Pats have also lost offensive weapons throughout the season. Four weeks into the season, wide receiver Randy Moss was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. Patriots fans may argue that the team is better off without him, but in the four games Moss played, the Patriots put 32.75 points on the board. In the four games without him, the Patriots have only mustered 22 points per game. The Patriots simply are lacking in big-play guys. They still have Wes Welker, but with only one big receiver, it’s easier for opposing teams to shut down Brady. The Patriots have no receiver with over 60 yards per game, and their leading rusher is averaging less than 50 yards per game. Brady can’t do it all alone.
The Pats have the capacity and time to improve, but unless they do, they most certainly are not in dynasty mode, let alone AFC Champions mode. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even bet on them to win the AFCâ€ˆEast.