Week 10's battle certainly wasn't pretty, but the Patriots were able to escape with a win against the Buffalo Bills. Let's take a look at what we learned from New England's 37-31 victor over Buffalo.
Right off the bat, let me start by saying that the New England Patriots are very fortunate that they won this game. The Patriots played down to an inferior team's level and are very lucky that the Buffalo Bills essentially threw up on themselves in the clutch.
If the Patriots continue to play like this, sure they'll make the playoffs but they wont be able to beat anyone considering playoff teams don't choke like Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills.
With that being said, let's take a look at what we've learned from New England's 37-31 victory over the Bills as the Patriots now improve to 6-3 on the season.
1. New England's secondary badly needs Aqib Talib
After letting Ryan Fitzpatrick throw for 337 yards and two touchdowns while completing 67.5 percent of his passes, the New England Patriots badly need Aqib Talib to be an impact in their secondary.
The newly acquired cornerback will join the Patriots this week as his four-game suspension comes to an end.
Coming off of a 37-31 victory over the lowly Buffalo Bills, the Patriots secondary continues to be the team's biggest weakness and it's going to have to change. If it doesn't change, then there's no chance that the Patriots will make any noise in the playoffs this season—fact, not opinion.
2. Are New England's defensive front seven as good as we thought they were?
Could New England's front seven just have been a mirage thus far in 2012? It very well could have.
The Patriots run defense and pass rush did not look impressive at all Sunday against the Bills. New England's run defense couldn't stop a nose bleed as they let C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson absolutely shred them apart for a whopping 150 yards. Spiller averaged 7.8 yards per-carry while Jackson averaged 5.0 yards per-carry.
This is an obvious problem that needs to be addressed.
As for the pass-rush, where was it? It was a non-factor as Fitzpatrick nearly had all day to throw the ball.
Granted, Fitzpatrick was sacked three times on the day, but he did manage to complete 67.5 percent of his passes and ultimately picked apart New England's secondary.
All in all, New England's defensive front seven was a no-show for Week 10.
3. New England's offense disappeared in the fourth quarter
This has been somewhat of a trend thus far in 2012 as the Patriots were only able to muster six points in the fourth quarterback thanks to two Stephen Gostkowski field goals.
The Patriots only had three complete drives in the fourth with the last drive of the third quarter carried over into the final period. Two of of those four drives resulted in field goals with one of them being the final drive of the game which was just a Tom Brady kneel.
However, it is somewhat alarming that the Patriots stalled twice in those two scoring drives and weren't able to put the game away with a much needed touchdown.
As for other drive that ultimately gave life back to the Bills, it started at 9:35 left in the fourth and lasted only three plays. I'm sorry, but three-and-outs will not win you games against good teams in the NFL—fact, not opinion.
So what it all comes down to is that fourth quarter efficiency is a clear problem for New England's offense heading into Week 11.
4. Stevan Ridley continues to be a work-horse for the Patriots
Ridley once again had a stellar game for the Pats as he ran for a solid 98 yards on 22 carries while averaging 4.5 yards per-carry and punched in one touchdown.
For the most part, I was impressed with New England's offense and how it remained very balanced against the Bills—and all the credit needs to go to Ridley, who was an absolute work-horse for New England.
5. Wes Welker was a disappointment
Wes Welker had several drops Sunday afternoon and simply wasn't effective as we'd hope for.
Welker was targeted 11 times but was only able to reel in six of those passes. He finished with 74 yards and averaged 12.3 yards per-reception.
Welker's biggest mistake Sunday was early in the first quarter when he dropped a beauitful touch pass from Brady, which have likely resulted in a touchdown.
Let's just hope that this was an off week for Welker.
6. New England's offensive line appears to be banged up
Connolly left with an apparent back injury in the second quarter while Mankins left in the third quarter with an ankle injury.
For the most part, New England's offensive line did their job against the Bills as they opened up some running lanes for the running backs and kept Brady up off of the ground as they allowed just one sack.
We'll just have to wait and see on what the severity is on Connolly's and Mankins' injuries.