Since the beginning of November, many Patriots fans have begun to forget the great start to the season that the team has had. The Patriots, despite an early explosion to the season, have appeared to have an offensive stalemate that is leading to a lot less scoring from the team that was considered to be the best of the best; they’ve barely squeaked by in the games they have won, or had their offense as well as defense exposed. With this, there is one major question to be asked of the team as they approach the final few games of the season: Is this a Super Bowl worthy team or will they fall short to a team that they have already lost to? This is the question in the back of everyone’s minds as a loss to the Texans on December 1 took them from the number one overall team in the AFC down a spot. With this, there are a few areas which could indicate that the Patriots have a lackluster team at the moment.
The first major spot that the Patriots need to focus on is their kicking situation. This season the Patriots have seen four faces who have been the center of attention for these kicking duties. The season started with kicker Stephen Gostkowski, then moved on to Mike Nugent and Nick Folk. The week before the Patriots were scheduled to take on the Texans, Folk was hospitalized with appendicitis, which lead to his release and the signing of a fourth kicker, Kai Forbath. With the way that the season has been heading, it would be no surprise if before the final game is played by New England there will be one more kicker or the return of another kicker to the team.
The Patriots have also been struggling with their offensive unit as a whole. Since the release of Antonio Brown, the offense has been struggling to present the hot team that they had in the first few weeks of the season. With the end of the season coming, there are a lot of players who were injured in the first few weeks returning, such as N’Keal Harry, Isaiah Wynn and Phillip Dorsett. Nonetheless, the team has still seen many slow starts to games and appears to be struggling offensively; even quarterback Tom Brady has shown how upset he is about the way the offense has been performing. As a total unit, the only real positivity that the Patriots have is in their defense, which was shown to be human twice this season in losses to the Texans and the Ravens.
With the season having four games left, the Patriots are racing to find solutions to a team that appeared electric at the beginning of the season but now are appearing to be slowing down. If the Patriots struggle to figure out what they can do better, they will face a much tougher offseason and could potentially lose their first-round bye, something that has been shown in the past to take a toll on the team
This article is the sole opinion of this writer.
Alan Fortin can be contacted