If you were expecting 30-point blowouts every seven days like it was your birthright, well, that’s on you.
The Patriots don’t have the horses on offense to pull that off right now and there are teams – like the Buffalo Bills – who can give resistance.
What you saw Sunday in the Patriots 16-10 win was a Patriots team that played exactly as they are equipped right now. On offense, they don’t have the wideouts, the tight ends, the rhythm or the bodies to just hang touchdowns on teams whenever they want to.
Especially on the road against a team with a capable defense – and Buffalo’s surely is that.
Maybe the Patriots will get there. They always seem to. But right now, they aren’t close – as Tom Brady’s been warning everyone about since training camp. They are inexperienced at wideout when you get past Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett. They are wafer-thin at tight end. Their running game without fullback James Develin and a backup named Marshall Newhouse playing left tackle isn’t very scary.
There are plenty of teams they can roll out of bed and give a whipping to anyway. They saw two of them to start the year and put 76 points up.
But since scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions in last week’s win over the Jets, the Patriots have had 22 offensive possessions resulting in 16 punts, two field goals, two interceptions and two touchdowns. It’s a full-fledged funk and a defense like the Bills was able to shine a light on it.
The other thing brought to light? This defense isn’t just good enough to make bad quarterbacks look really bad. It’s also good enough to smash the propaganda around a purportedly improving quarterback like Josh Allen and leave him throwing passes that look like punts.
Had it not been for the erratic Allen and his overcaffeinated, game mismanaging, ready to fight everyone head coach Sean McDermott, maybe Buffalo could have won this one.
Against the 2018 Patriots, they probably would have. They held the Patriots to 5 of 18 on third down and addled Brady to the point he had a half-dozen throwaways, a number of high throws caused by busy feet and a bad pick in the end zone.
But even as the Bills took over with 3:09 left needing a touchdown, there was no sinking feeling that Matt Barkley was going to orchestrate some heart-stopping jaunt to the end zone to put the Bills in first place and the Patriots left explaining what in God’s name happened to the team that was maybe going 19-0?
At some point, they were going to short-circuit. And they did, courtesy of Kyle Van Noy.
The Patriots are just so much better than other teams in their totality – coaching, game management, special teams, quarterback, defense – that one unit can be almost totally ineffective and this year, they will get away with it. Even against a decent team in a hostile stadium.
The Patriots have the Redskins next and that means they either get Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum, Colt McCoy or Billy Kilmer. None of the above have a prayer of putting up double digits on this defense and a lame-duck coach like Jay Gruden isn’t going to get a blood-and-guts performance from his guys. The Patriots are as good as 5-0 without even taking the trip down there.
Four days later, they’ll turn around and host the Giants on Thursday night and eviscerate them. So 6-0 is nigh, despite the offensive “things to work through.”
After that, the games get more interesting. What relevance will this Bills game have by then? Will it have been a wakeup call or a sign of things to come?
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