6 weeks ago, this article would have been absolutely unthinkable. The Patriots were riding high, they were 10-0, looking at worst a 14-2 record, if not another 16-0 season. They were hot. Like temperature of the sun hot. And then, after losing in overtime to the Broncos, they went cold. As cold as anybody has seen them go in the past few years. They lost horribly to the Eagles the following week, won two games that any team could’ve won, and then dropped their last two games of the regular season, falling to 2nd place in the AFC, and while still getting a bye week to heal up, they’re all of a sudden on the brink. People will still argue that they’re still the creme de la creme of the AFC, I find it really hard to see them making it past their first game, let alone their second game.
First of all, their injuries. These are what began to sink the Pats season, as a ton their star players on both offense and defense began to drop like flies. Now, the big argument is that most of their stars (Julian Edelman, Sebastian Vollmer, Dont’a Hightower) will be healed up and “well rested” for the game. I don’t really buy that. If they were arm injuries or upper body injuries I think you could push a solid argument for that, but these were all leg/ankle/foot injuries. In football, unless you’re the quarterback, legs are quintessential to your game. You have to move your legs constantly, whether you’re blocking, defending, running or running to catch the football. Leg injuries, especially those that sideline players for quite some time, tend to lead to, from my observations, more rust that the player has to shake off. Their best bet is Vollmer to do as well as he has, but no matter what he does to prepare he’s going to have a rough go at things.
This is because the three teams the Patriots play have good to great defenses. The Patriots offensive line has been taking a shellacking recently from poor defenses (ie the Dolphins), and it hasn’t looked up to snuff. If you put that offensive line up against the Bengals or the Chiefs, this team might as well hop aboard the Struggle Bus. Tom Brady will be mauled by those two defenses, maybe he’d even get mauled by the Texans. Couple that with their defense being meh even healthy, it spells utter disaster for the Patriots, who are built on speed. If Edelman is as rusty as I think he’s going to be, it’ll make their opponents defense especially happy. And while going into Foxboro and coming out with a victory is always a struggle, it’ll take a lot more than homefield advantage for the Patriots to escape to play the Broncos/Steelers. Which, both of those matchups, are a Patriots fan’s nightmare.