The New England Patriots defeated the Houston Texans 27-6. Here are our observations.
Tom Brady loves having a full roster
The New England Patriots quarterback was 22/30 for 225 yards and two touchdowns. While the offense still missed Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler were definitely limited in their snaps, the offense had enough firepower in order to pick up some major points against a very good defense.
LeGarrette Blount was good, but went down
Blount seemed to finally turn a corner on his slow season, but a hip injury quickly derailed his game. Blount picked up 53 yards on 10 carries and he was really wearing down the defense. Brandon Bolden isn't close to the same raw skill of Blount, but Bolden is giving 100% on every single snap. Blount doesn't exude that confidence. Hopefully his injury is minor because the Patriots will need him down the stretch.
The offensive line had a good start to the day
When the team had Blount on the field, the offensive line was great. Brady had hours in the pocket and he was able to deliver some great throws down the field. The second Blount left the game, the Texans started to key in on the Patriots passing game and Brady was getting hit every other snap. It's extremely evident that New England needs a rushing attack. Blount needs a pep talk if and when he returns, or else the Patriots need to bring in an external body.
The defensive line was lights out
Texans running back Jonathan Grimes picked up 37 yards on an early carry. The Patriots held the Texans to 50 rushing yards on 21 carries (2.38 yards per carry). The defensive front was just ferocious across the board, while Akiem Hicks and Malcom Brown really stood out for their quality play.
Jerod Mayo was a key factor
Linebacker Jonathan Freeny was knocked out of the game with a hand injury and Mayo stepped in and had a great game. It's been undeniable that Mayo has been better all year and now the Patriots coaching staff doesn't have an excuse to keep Mayo in his packaging anymore. Jamie Collins was great, as always, but Mayo was really good and led the team with 8 tackles.
Logan Ryan is a star
There's no question that cornerback Malcolm Butler gets the headlines, but the Patriots pit Ryan against Texans superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Ryan won handily. This is after Ryan had tremendous success against Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshall. It's arguable that Ryan is the team's top cornerback, even if he received some safety help over the top.
The injuries need to stop
The Patriots didn't just lose Blount and Freeny, they also lost defensive tackle Dominique Easley and safety Devin McCourty. This team can't afford to lose anyone else and it seems like the Patriots are really breaking down. They need a bye week as soon as possible.
The AFC is under the Patriots control
New England is now alone atop the AFC and they are in line for a bye week. The team is in a great place to heal and be ready for the playoffs.