Well, that wasn't close. Today, the New England Patriots returned home to host the 1-1 Jacksonville Jaguars and absolutely rocked them - by a final score of 51-17. The victory sends the Patriots to 3-0 on the year.
Tom Brady and the offense scored on every possession of the game, and following a quick pair of scores to begin the third quarter, the result of this one was not in doubt.
Here are five things we learned from today's win:
Patriots offense is super efficient. The Patriots starting offense had nine possessions in this game. On each of those nine drives, they moved the ball and scored points. This is downright, silly, ridiculous, absurd efficiency. We knew the Patriots offense would be good headed into 2015, but it would be hard for anyone to imagine them being this good. And to think, the Patriots are still without their second best receiver in Brandon LaFell.
Today, the Patriots got contributions from everyone on offense. Tom Brady was incredibly sharp, going 33/42 with a pair of touchdowns (to Danny Amendola and newcomer Keshawn Martin). Rob Gronkowski was fantastic. The protection held up - with Brady only being sacked twice. The running game really got going as the Patriots scored four times on the ground.
Two longtime Patriots hit big milestones. Today was a record breaking day for two longtime Patriots. Tom Brady had touchdown pass number 400 (and 401) - joining him with Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Dan Marino as the only NFL players to throw 400 touchdowns. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowki, a model of consistency in New England the last decade, broke the NFL record for successful consecutive PATs (423). With the new extra point rules, that's a record that may never be broken.
The Patriots have a running game. Surprise! Not only do the Patriots have an electric passing attack, but it turns out they can still run the football pretty well too. Running back LeGarrette Blount announced his arrival to the 2015 season with an 18 carry, 78 yard performance. Oh yeah, he also had three touchdowns. Blount's usage will be gameplan and situation dependent in 2015, but it is nice to know that the Patriots still have their workhorse for when they need him. Dion Lewis was also excellent again, catching five passes, and scoring the Patriots first touchdown on a nifty eight-yard scamper in the first quarter.
Still some issues on the back end. As good as the Patriots' offense was today, there were a few issues defensively. The Patriots did a good job on the edges and in the running game when they needed to, but they didn't apply as consistent pressure as they did a week ago. In addition, the defense had some issues on the back-end and covering the deep halves of the field. Devin McCourty was solid, and his first half interception of Blake Bortles was arguably the key turning point of the game. However, Duron Harmon and Malcolm Butler did have some issues. Butler was burned by Allen Hurns, and Harmon took a terrible angle on a long third quarter touchdown play that cut the score to 30-10. The Patriots also had some issues defensively on third and longs in the first half.
Patriots are cruising heading into the early bye. The Patriots received the short straw, and will have the earliest possible bye week this year. That being said, the Patriots could not possibly be in a better position than they are at the moment. They are 3-0, winning in dominating fashion, and have avoided serious injuries The team still has a ton of room for improvement - there are questions in the secondary and the interior offensive line will be intriguing to watch with Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell returning to health. Nonetheless, it's hard not to be excited about the potential of this New England Patriots squad.