Patriots

Patriots

The New England Patriots have been unbeatable (6-0) at home this season. On the road? Not so much.

The Pats are just 3-4 on the road, with the latest defeat coming Sunday in Miami when the Dolphins stunned their AFC East rivals with a 34-33 win at Hard Rock Stadium. Three of their four losses on the road have been by 10-plus points, too.

With the Patriots unlikely to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, the team's struggles away from Gillette Stadium are a genuine concern, and it's a topic former Patriots executive Mike Lombardi discussed on his weekly "GM Street" podcast on The Ringer.

“I think they got to be worried on the road,” Lombardi said. “I think there’s no doubt, they are not a good team on the road. Their defense was porous. If you want to take one thing from the miracle play, it’s take how slow the Patriots looked defensively on that play. And I’m not talking about Gronk, Bill admitted Gronk didn’t belong on the field that was a mistake … The Patriots got beat in an area where they never normally get beat which is situational football and it cost them.

“But I think the key component here is when you look at that Patriots defense on that last play is how slow they looked and how poorly they looked in space, and I think that’s got to concern you. That’s what I’ve been saying all year about their defense. I think it showed on that play, (Kenyan) Drake just ran away from everybody. They didn’t have anybody that could really run with Drake, and I know Devin McCourty wasn’t on the field, so he would have been somebody that could've. But I think you have to be concerned with the Patriots, I mean this is not your same Patriots. They are in the same uniform but they are not your same 2014, 2015, 2016 Patriots.

 

“This is the Patriots team that right now sits at 3-4 on the road,” Lombardi added. “They sit at 3-4 on the road. They have a below .500 record on the road. They haven’t had one of those in a long, long time. And I think it shows because they are not as talented as a team.”

This season's road woes are a stark contrast to New England's stellar road play in recent campaigns. The Patriots went 7-1 on the road last season and 8-0 in 2016. The last time the Patriots were .500 or worse on the road was 2013 when they went 4-4. Their last sub-.500 road season was 2009 when they were just 2-6.

The Patriots have one more road game in the regular season and it's Sunday in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. The Pats finish the season with home games against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. They need to win all three games to have any chance at the No. 1 seed, but the likely scenario is that any AFC Championship Game matchup involving the Patriots will not be played at Gillette.

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