Going into this season, the New England Patriots were considered the unquestioned runaway favorites to win the Super Bowl. How could they not be?
After all, they were the defending champs, and not only did they not lose significant talent, but a lot of people thought they may have improved by signing Brandon Cooks.
It seemed foolish to pick another team in the league to dethrone the Patriots.
And then, the injuries began to pile up. Julian Edelman hurt his knee in the preseason. He’s out for the year. Dont’a Hightower injured his knee in the season opener against Kansas City.
Stephon Gilmore has missed the last three weeks with an ankle injury. And most recently, Rob Gronkowski missed the last game with an injured thigh.
Still, we’ve seen the Patriots overcome injuries before, and no quarterback has done more with less over the years than Tom Brady. We’ve seen this team win in the past even when decimated with injuries.
While the injuries don’t necessarily help, the issues with this team run deeper.
Brady is far from the problem. He has been his usual brilliant self so far this season, and is probably the only reason they aren’t winless. The main issue with this team, as has been evident from game 1, is the defense.
They are currently ranked dead last in the league, surrendering 447.2 yards per game. With the exception of their most recent outing in Tampa Bay, they have looked pretty awful all season.
When the Patriots lost their season opener to the Chiefs, it was surprising, but also somewhat understandable because the Chiefs are a very good team. Since then however, we have seen New England struggle against teams that weren’t so good.
They narrowly escaped defeat against the Texans at home, they lost at home to the Panthers, and they almost blew one on the road against the Buccaneers. This team is just a few bounces of the ball way from being 1-4 right now, which should be very concerning.
The way this team looks right now, it’s hard to imagine them anywhere near the Super Bowl. I know this is almost blasphemous to say, but they might not even make the playoffs if they were in a tougher division.
With a tough schedule that includes road trips to Pittsburgh, Oakland, and Denver, a home game against Atlanta, and two games against Buffalo who looks surprisingly competent this season, it’s easy to see this team loosing 5, potentially 6 games.
Once they get to the playoffs, they will in all likelihood have to face Pittsburgh and/or Kansas City in a rematch, probably in Arrowhead this time. I’m not liking their chances, and Patriots fans probably aren’t either.
Tom Brady is an all-time great quarterback, but he can’t do it all himself. Unless more playmakers can step up on offense, and the defense can make significant improvements, this team has a better chance of losing in the Wild-Card round than they do of winning the Super Bowl.