Patriots

Patriots vs. Chiefs Instant Overreactions: Offensive woes a huge problem for Pats

Patriots vs. Chiefs Instant Overreactions: Offensive woes a huge problem for Pats

FOXBORO -- The New England Patriots lost more than their 21-game home win streak in a 23-16 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

The Patriots have fallen a game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff race, and it's going to be very tough for the defending Super Bowl champions to reclaim that spot, especially since the AFC North club holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. 

New England's defense played well against the NFL's third-highest scoring offense, but again, the Patriots' own offense failed to score enough points late to complete a comeback.

Let's take a look at four instant overreactions from the Patriots' loss and assess their merit.

1. The Patriots offense is a huge problem
Verdict
: Not an overreaction

The Patriots can't do anything well offensively right now. They can't run the ball effectively (particularly on early downs) and wide receivers are unable to consistently get open.

Let's start with the rushing attack. Sony Michel has been a non-factor most of the season, and the sophomore running back hasn't scored a touchdown in six consecutive games. He also doesn't have a 100-yard rushing game in 2019 after tallying only eight yards on five carries (none in the second half) versus the Chiefs.

The passing attack didn't fare much better. Julian Edelman is the only wideout who quarterback Tom Brady can depend on. Edelman caught eight passes for a team-high 95 yards and a touchdown. No other wide receiver tallied more than a single reception all game. Rookie wideout Jakobi Meyers made one catch overall and dropped a pass on a critical third down in the first half. The Patriots ultimately turned the ball over on downs one play after Meyers' mistake. The team's other rookie wide receiver, N'Keal Harry, didn't play many snaps and caught just one pass. The young receivers aren't the only problem, though. Veteran wideout Mohamed Sanu has failed to make an impact following an impressive performance in a Week 9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. In fairness, Sanu has been banged up with an injury over the last couple weeks and didn't play versus the Dallas Cowboys in Week 12. Still, if he's going to play, he needs to give the Patriots more than six receptions for 31 yards and zero touchdowns over his last three games.

Two of the Patriots' best offensive plays were a 37-yard touchdown pass on a flea-flicker and a James White pass to Meyers that picked up 35 yards. 

The Patriots have scored an average of 17.6 points over their last five games, and that's nowhere near good enough, even if they have one of the league's best defenses. New England was struggling on offense late last season and switched to a power-running game that benefited them in the playoffs. An effective adjustment similar to that doesn't appear to be in the cards this season.

2. Pats-Chiefs was one of the worst officiated games of 2019 
Verdict
: Not an overreaction

Jerome Boger and his crew should receive a poor grade for their performance Sunday. Many flags were thrown and later picked up, showing a clear indecision amongst the crew. The worst stretch of the crew's day came in the second half, however.

The Patriots knocked the ball out of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce's hands and Stephon Gilmore scooped it up and ran downfield. Gilmore likely would've scored a touchdown, but the officials blew the play dead and ruled Kelce down by contact. A challenge by Bill Belichick ultimately gave the Patriots the ball, but the decision to blow the play dead and not let it play out probably cost New England a touchdown. On the ensuing Patriots drive in the fourth quarter, Harry caught a 12-yard pass and appeared to have reached the end zone. He was ruled out of bounds short of the goal line, even though replay showed the rookie wideout clearly didn't step out of bounds. The Patriots couldn't challenge the play because it had to burn a challenge reviewing the Kelce fumble and had no challenges remaining. New England settled for a field goal to trim the deficit to 23-16.

The Chiefs made more plays than the Patriots and overall were the better team, but the referees certainly cost the Patriots points. If Harry's play was ruled a touchdown, the Patriots could've kicked a field goal on their last possession to tie the score. Instead, the Patriots needed a touchdown and failed on a fourth down throw to the end zone on their final drive.

3. The No. 1 seed is gone for good
Verdict
: Not an overreaction

We mentioned last week how the Patriots' loss to the Texans made it very difficult for them to get back the No. 1 seed. Well, this defeat all but closes the door on that goal. The Patriots are not mathematically eliminated from earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but their best chance is winning out and having the Ravens lose two of their final three games. Baltimore finishes the regular season with matchups versus the New York Jets, at the Cleveland Browns and versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Can you find two Ravens losses in there? The likeliest scenario is Baltimore winning all of those games, unless they lock up the No. 1 seed early and don't need to play all their starters against the Steelers in Week 17.

Going on the road for an AFC Championship Game isn't an impossible task for the Patriots, as we saw last season, but it's hard to envision this particular team winning in Baltimore in January.

4. The Chiefs are the second-best team in the AFC
Verdict
: Not an overreaction

The Chiefs are the only team in the league who've beaten both the Ravens and Patriots. Kansas City has now won three consecutive games following a bad 35-32 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 10. The Chiefs still need the Patriots to lose once more to earn the No. 2 seed, but with reigning MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes healthy again and a defense much-improved from last season, this Kansas City team is going to be a very tough out in the playoffs.

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Watch Rob Gronkowski's wild intro as WrestleMania 36 host

Watch Rob Gronkowski's wild intro as WrestleMania 36 host

Rob Gronkowski may be done with football, but he continues to find ways to entertain us on our television screens.

The former New England Patriots tight end is hosting WrestleMania 36 this weekend alongside WWE star Mojo Rawley. And as one would expect, Gronk brought the energy to start off the two-night event.

“[WWE] picked the right guy [to host WrestleMania], because I know how to start a party on a Saturday night and end it 30 hours later," Gronk quipped in his introduction.

Watch below:

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Between the WWE and his various other ventures, Gronkowski seemingly has been everywhere these last few weeks. He appeared on SmackDown, was revealed as White Tiger in "The Masked Singer," and participated in a virtual beer pong tournament for coronavirus relief.

In other words, retirement seems to be treating the future Pro Football Hall of Famer well.

Stephon Gilmore seems to think covering new Bills WR Stefon Diggs will be 'light work'

Stephon Gilmore seems to think covering new Bills WR Stefon Diggs will be 'light work'

Does New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore think covering new Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs will be "light work?" 

It certainly seems that way. Gilmore defended Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper after former Bills and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan called Cooper a "turd" on ESPN's "Get Up."

The 29-year-old called Cooper one of the "toughest receivers in the league to cover," but when a fan responded saying Diggs will be tougher, another fan said he'd be "light work" and Gilmore liked that tweet. 

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Will Diggs really be that difficult for the Defensive Player of the Year to handle? It's tough to say, but Diggs put up some impressive numbers with the Minnesota Vikings before being traded to the Bills.

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In five seasons with the Vikings, Diggs has 4,623 yards and 30 touchdowns -- he's had 1,000-plus yards receiving in back-to-back years and has never played a full 16-game season. On the other hand, Gilmore had six interceptions last season with two touchdowns, 44 solo tackles and a fumble recovery. 

With the Patriots and Bills set to meet at least twice next season, it'll be interesting to see how things shake out.