Are the Patriots really that good?
Okay, probably a foolish question, since they are the defending Super Bowl champs, undefeated, and appear to be head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL at the six week mark.
But then again, what have they really done so far in 2019?
They trounced a Steelers team badly in their home opener, but that was before we began to realize that the Steelers aren’t very good this year. Since then, the only game you could argue was against a semi-competitive opponent was when New England went over to Buffalo and pulled out a close one, 16-10. The Bills? Yup, that’s the Pats biggest win so far in 2019.
Yeah, Buffalo’s been the class of the Patriots early-season competition. And yes, I know all about how the Patriots can only play the teams the schedule-makers place in front of them each week, but c’mon. Blowouts of the putrid Dolphins, injury-ravaged Jets, only-slightly-less-putrid-than-the-Dolphins Redskins, along with a less than stellar showing last Thursday night over the Daniel Jones-led Giants, hasn’t proven a thing.
Maybe by next Tuesday morning the Pats will be sitting 7-0 and taking bows as more bouquets are thrown their way. But will the Patriots easily dismiss the J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS for the second time in four weeks? This one could actually be a telling matchup if any doubts are still floating around out there about New England.
The Jets are a different team with Sam Darnold leading the offense, and their O-line finally looked as though they were finding their footing against a solid Cowboys defensive front on Sunday. On defense, it appears C.J. Mosley may at last be returning from the groin injury that sidelined him in the Jets opener, and he is a difference-maker for Gang Green if he is healthy and calling the defensive signals.
As bad as the Jets have looked during Darnold’s absence, the defense has actually acquitted itself pretty well, which is no easy feat when you go into a game knowing you have zero chance of winning unless the defense and special teams units rack up multiple scores.
Meanwhile, we may not be watching the same old Patriots of years past. For one, at some point, they will miss Rob Gronkowski. There was a notable difference between the Pats with Gronk in the lineup, as opposed to when he was sitting it out with an injury these last few years, and when the competition picks up Gronk’s absence could be notable. Then there’s the Pats’ 42-year-old QB. He can’t keep up this level of play forever, can he? Okay, maybe he can, but at some point there’s gotta be some kind of injury, right? Brady does take some hits, and I don’t care how healthy a diet you have, it’s harder to recover from a beating at 42 than 32 (or 22, for that matter).
Then there was the whole Antonio Brown embarrassment/distraction earlier in the season. Very un-Patriots-like, don’t you think? And maybe most importantly, the Patriots have made closing the season strong their hallmark during this remarkable run of excellence. It’s almost an October rite of passage that there’s some unexpected New England loss, or losses, to get all us haters hopeful that maybe the jig is finally up in New England. You know the chorus — Belichick’s losing his touch, Brady’s showing signs of his age, etc., etc., etc. Then they go and right the ship and close the season on a crescendo that carries them right through January. Like effin’ clockwork.
Are the Patriots peaking too early in 2019? Can their incredible streak of 19 consecutive wins over teams led by first and second-year QB’s continue uninterrupted? Could they be overlooking the Jets after barely breaking a sweat in stomping their division rivals just four weeks ago?
Well, that’s why they play the games. And forget the point spread, SportsAttic is calling for an outright Monday Night Football upset at MetLife Stadium six days from now. You heard it here first!
Other thoughts from around the NFL following an interesting Week 6:
*Are the 49ers really good, or were the Rams overrated coming into this year? Probably a little bit of both, but until someone knocks them off, consider the Niners the team to beat in the NFC. That defense looks for real.
*And what about the Steelers rallying around a kid who showed up for the game in a duck t-shirt on Sunday night? Methinks that Pittsburgh win may tell us more about the state of the Los Angeles (still can’t get used to calling them that) Chargers, than any real sign of optimism for NFL fans in Western Pennsylvania to grab hold of.
*We can’t help but think that Atlanta sports fans must have had their fill of Cardinals after this past week, huh? Are the Falcons really that bad? As the oracle known as Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.”
*So the Eagles go to Minnesota and lay an egg against the Vikings and decide to place the blame on linebacker Zach Brown, who was quoted criticizing Kirk Cousins leading up to the game (he was not alone in his critique, by the way). Yeah, definitely the linebacker’s fault. Here’s hoping the Giants or Cowboys pick up Brown and he exacts some NFC East revenge before the season’s out. Enjoy 3-3, Iggles.
*Speaking of the NFC East, maybe the best part of the Jets win over the Cowboys on Sunday was reading the hysterical, ranting tweets from Cowboys fans calling for Jason Garrett’s head. Listen folks, Garrett’s stared down way worse than a 3-3 start during his checkered tenure in Big D. Doesn’t seem Jerry Jones will ever pull that trigger. Makes ya wonder what Garrett’s got on this guy, doesn’t it?
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*One last note on the NFC East — can the Giants really be only one game out of first place? Could they truly be playing a “must win game” (against the Cardinals for goodness sakes) this coming Sunday? Do they really sport the same 2-4 record as the vaunted Cleveland Browns at this point in the season? Yes, yes, and yes. And don’t think for a second Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t well aware of all of that.
*I know it seems like most of the league is 2-4 right now, but the Jaguars have to be the best 2-4 team of them all. They’ve lost close ones to the Chiefs and Saints at home and to the Panthers and Texans on the road. Plus their QB’s mustache is way cooler than Aaron Rogers’.
*Yeah, the Lions got robbed last night. Yeah, in their heart of hearts, the NFL probably does prefer to see the Packers win at Lambeau on a Monday night. Yeah, it’s getting old having the officiating play such a visible role in outcomes every week. I’m not sure about the correct solution, but it seems to me a catch is a catch, and interference is interference, and we all grew up making those calls decisively in pick up games on every playground from sea to shining sea. Yet those are the calls officials can’t seem to get right week after week. SMH.
*Was Sam Darnold’s triumphant return and demonstration to all that he possesses the intangibles of a franchise QB enough to table these absurdly premature “Daniel Jones is the best QB in New York” arguments? I sure hope so.