Welcome to a spanking new NFL opening weekend folks, that ironically featured the ‘Will they go 19-0?’ Patriots on the receiving end of one. In prime time. I know they’re the reigning World Champions, but man, it’s never easy.
2013 gave us the Aaron Hernandez situation. The next year the Pats’ gave up a 10-point halftime lead to lose a sloppy opener in Miami. After an offseason of deflategate, Tom Brady began 2015 with the honorable Judge Richard Berman nullifying his 4-game suspension. He began 2016 serving it.
This year? The Pats load up with talent in the offseason but lose Julian Edelman. Dont’a Hightower and Danny Amendola leave the game with injuries, causing instant amnesia over everyone who all suddenly forgot how to play football.
Time to panic? Nah. It’s Week 1. It’s the Patriots. They do their best work with some type of hole (28-3) to dig out of. Bill Belichick has already moved on to New Orleans, Tom Brady is ticked off... Bring on the Saints!
Around the AFC East:
Patriots (0-1) at New Orleans (0-1)
Buffalo (1-0) at Carolina (1-0)
Miami (0-0) at LA Chargers (0-1)
NY Jets (0-1) at Oakland (1-0)
Baltimore (1-0) vs. Cleveland (0-1)
Pittsburgh (1-0) vs. Minnesota (1-0)
Kansas City (1-0) vs. Eagles (1-0)
Denver (1-0) vs. Dallas (1-0)
Jacksonville (1-0) vs. Tennessee (0-1)
Houston (0-1) at Cincinnati (0-1)
Colts (0-1) vs. Arizona (0-1)
1st - Mark Cannizzaro (NY Post): Despite the loss to the Chiefs, is there another team you’d stake your rent or mortgage money on to win the Super Bowl this season? We still consider them the elite, even at 0-1 for the moment.
1st - Chris Simms (Bleacher Report): There have been plenty of overreactions to the Patriots' loss, but I'm keeping New England at No. 1 for now. This game was closer than the final score indicates, and this is a team with many new pieces still learning to play together. ...
3rd - Joe Giglio (NJ.com): So much for all that talk of an undefeated season! Don't overreact, though. The Pats will be fine.
3rd - Elliot Harrison (NFL.com): We all underrated the loss of receiver Julian Edelman (to a torn ACL) and linebacker Rob Ninkovich (to retirement) -- including me, despite the fact I brought it up on "The Power Rankings Show" and "Total Access" last week. Edelman is a known commodity. Danny Amendola is the man people tabbed to replace Edelman's production, hoping he could stay healthy. He couldn't. Tom Brady and Brandin Cooks aren't on the same page yet. And too often, Chiefs QB Alex Smith had plenty of time to throw. Ninkovich might not have been an All-Pro sack guy, but he was an all-motor guy. The real (hidden) concern: tight end Rob Gronkowski not getting much separation after that first-quarter TD catch was ruled incomplete (an early turning point in the game). The man has absorbed a lot of hits. Let's hope he's not slowing down.
4th - Experts (ESPN): The Patriots allowed the most yards (537) and points (42) by a Bill Belichick-coached team in Thursday's loss to the Chiefs. Possible overreaction: The Patriots are still the team to beat, but if the defense can't stop Alex Smith, how will it stop Drew Brees in Week 2? The Patriots' first 0-2 start since 2001 seems like a distinct possibility now.
4th - Staff (AP Pro32).
5th - MMQB Power Poll (SI).
5th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): How many points would the Patriots have surrendered if Bill Belichick wasn’t a genius?
5th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): If there was one problem I’m not sure the Patriots can turn around, it’s the lack of pass rush. It’s hard to say this now because New England won a Super Bowl last season, but I wonder if they regret not keeping and paying Chandler Jones. They don’t really have anyone like Jones who can consistently beat an offensive lineman one-on-one and get to the quarterback.
5th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): The defense was terrible against the Chiefs, and faces a stiff challenge this week against the Saints. It has to show improvement -- or else.
6th - Manish Mehta (NY Daily News): Wait a second. How did a win-less team sneak in here? Get used to it. Two more made the Top 10. You'd be a damn fool to write off The Hoodie & Co. after one embarrassing loss. Sure, Tom Brady showed geezer-like tendencies and was off without security blanket Julian Edelman. Sure, Patricia was swallowed whole by Andy Reid. The last time Belichick was (figuratively) undressed, he was "on to Cincinnati" and an eventual Lombardi Trophy. Now, he's on to New Orleans, where Brady is going to carve up the Saints swiss-cheese defense.
6th - Mark Maske (Washington Post): So much for a run at a 19-0 season. That didn’t provide much drama, did it? The defending champs were pretty dreadful in the loss to the Chiefs. The offense was out of sync and the defense gave up huge plays in the highest-scoring game ever against a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team. But are you really going to wager against Belichick and QB Tom Brady getting things fixed? The strong suspicion here is that this will still be the team to beat entering the postseason.
7th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): It's a good thing Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia have had some extra time to examine everything that went wrong with their defense in the opener. Knowing the issues on the other side of the ball, Tom Brady might have more on him at age 40 than we thought.
7th - Staff (USA Today): Panic button? Start Garoppolo? Can Belichick? Definitely. Oh, by the way, Pats won Super Bowl last 3 times ('01, '03, '14) they lost in Week 1.
7th - Ben Krimmel (Real Clear Sports): Despite losing and looking poor on offense for stretches last Thursday night, the Patriots’ ability to make adjustments and improve as the season goes along is still unmatched in the NFL. Rob Gronkowski getting just two catches, the explosive Brandin Cooks getting just three, and Tom Brady’s struggles with his accuracy will all be cleaned up.
22nd - Adam Stites (SB Nation): It’s far from panic time in New England, but there are legitimate concerns about a team some thought would go 16-0. The biggest problem is the team’s defensive line that was gashed by Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt and couldn’t get to Alex Smith. If you didn’t already know: Never count out Touchdown Tom. But the Patriots look much more beatable now than many expected.
AVERAGE RANK: 4.6 (Not including the outlier 22nd rank.)