If you just focused on stats, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looks like a good-but-not-great player in 2019.
The 42-year-old quarterback ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards with 3,268, but he's only completing 61.1 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. He's on pace to finish with 24 touchdown passes, which would be his lowest total since he had 25 in 2013.
Stats don't always tell the whole story, though, and that's certainly the case with Brady.
Brady's biggest problems are beyond his control. His wide receiver corps has several new faces, including rookies N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers, who have been asked to play roles they're probably not yet ready to undertake. Antonio Brown was brought in after Week 1 to be the No. 1 wideout and then was released 11 days later. Josh Gordon also was let go after battling an injury. And, of course, future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski hasn't been adequately replaced.
Brady needs to play better. There's no question about that. However, he's still a really good quarterback.
One of the Kansas City Chiefs players who will be tasked with helping to slow down Brady and the Patriots offense in Sunday's Week 14 game at Gillette Stadium is cornerback Bashaud Breeland. Here's his response this week to talk of Brady's decline, via Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star.
It’s a myth. People said the same thing about Aaron Rodgers. He’d have slow starts, and then he’d turn it on. Once you’re a GOAT (greatest of all-time) and you have that GOAT status, at any moment you can turn it on. Brady can hit that switch anytime he’s ready.
New England needs a huge bounce-back performance from Brady on Sunday because so much is riding on this result. The Patriots lost control of the race for the No. 1 seed last week when the Baltimore Ravens overtook them in that spot. The Ravens and Patriots both have identical 10-2 records but Baltimore owns the head-to-head tiebreaker from its Week 9 win over New England.
Another loss likely would give the Patriots no chance to secure the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. It might not even matter, anyway, because the Ravens don't have a hard schedule the rest of the regular season. But to have any shot at the top spot in the conference, Sunday's game is pretty much a must-win for the Patriots. A lot of the responsibility falls on Brady, who needs to elevate his performance for the Patriots to beat a Chiefs team that scores the third-most points per game in the league.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.