Sunday’s spectacular back-and-forth, nail-biter of a comeback win against the Texans earned Tom Brady his second-straight AFC Player of the Week honor. While the Patriots offense has been on fire through Week 3 (1st in yards and passing yards, 2nd in points, 16th in rushing yards), the defense is in flames (32nd in yards, passing yards, and points; 26th in rushing yards.) Both units smoking hot, but with a world of difference. As USA Today put it:
Tom Brady was entrenched as the GOAT before Sunday's heroics. But this defense is full of, ahem, goats after allowing most points, yards in NFL.
Can’t blame them for calling it like it is but the stats are just a snapshot. This isn’t the first time the D has been off to a
rocky slow bad start, so no need to panic. It’s still early in the season. Dont’a Hightower will return from injury, Alan Branch will improve his conditioning, and the coaches and captains will work out the usual kinks with scheme and communication. Patience. There are four whole days for it to all come together against the Panthers. Or just enough. New England by 14.
Around the AFC East:
New England (2-1) vs. Carolina (2-1)
Buffalo (2-1) at Atlanta (3-0)
Miami (1-1) vs. New Orleans (1-2)
NY Jets (1-2) vs. Jacksonville (2-1)
Kansas City (3-0) vs. Washington (2-1)
Pittsburgh (2-1) at Baltimore (2-1)
Denver (2-1) vs. Oakland (2-1)
Tennessee (2-1) at Houston (1-2)
Indianapolis (1-2) at Seattle (1-2)
Cleveland (0-3) vs. Cincinnati (0-3)
LA Chargers (0-3) vs. Philadelphia (2-1)
1st - Chris Simms (Bleacher Report): There were several times when Brady looked up and found his first read with no defender within 10 yards of him. ... There are still concerns with this defense, however. The secondary is fine, and there are some talented big men up front, but New England lacks athleticism in the front seven.
2nd - Manish Mehta (NY Daily News): The glass-half empty folks will say that Bill Belichick & Co. needed a frenetic finish to squeak by a Texans club led by a rookie quarterback making his second career start. The glass-half full folks will say that New England always has a chance as long as good ol' No. 12 is on their side. I'll side with the Tom Brady-cannot-be-human crowd. Nine touchdown passes and no turnovers in the past two games? Give. Me. A. Break.
2nd - Ian Glendon (Cover32): Again, Tom Brady is still the best quarterback in the business. However, the defense right now is statistically the worst unit in the league.
2nd - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): If they had a hard time containing Deshaun Watson, how will they do against Cam Newton?
2nd - Mark Cannizzaro (NY Post): Yes, the defense is suspect. Pats allowed 417 yards and 23 first downs to Houston, which is cause for alarm. But they still have Tom Brady, whose 5 TD passes overcame the lack of defense. Brady leads the NFL in passing yards with 1,092. That has him on pace for 5,824 for the season, which would shatter the NFL record of 5,477, and New England might need every one of them.
2nd - Joe Giglio (NJ.com): Something is off with New England's defense, but the NFL's Benjamin Button (Tom Brady) won't let it ruin the season.
3rd - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): They needed every bit of Tom Brady's arm to survive a scare against the Texans, because Bill Belichick's defense wasn't its usual self against a rookie QBs at home. Will their real D please stand up? This week: vs. Panthers, when Cam meets Tom.
3rd - Elliot Harrison (NFL.com): Exhilarating win followed by a lack of movement in the Power Rankings. With five more touchdown passes against the Texans' defense, including the improbable game-winner to Brandin Cooks in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady poured more cement on his status as the greatest quarterback to ever lace 'em up. The issue here is the fact that the Patriots needed all five of those touchdown passes, at home, against a team featuring a rookie quarterback making his second start. Even the most ardent fans in New England must be concerned about Matt Patricia's defense, which allowed 417 yards and 23 first downs Sunday.
3rd - Mark Maske (Washington Post): The defense is becoming a problem but QB Tom Brady and the offense clicked again Sunday and the Patriots escaped with the narrow win over the Texans. Over the past two games, Brady has completed 55 of 74 passes for 825 yards with eight TDs and no interceptions.
3rd - Staff (SI).
3rd - Experts (ESPN): Tom Brady: 76.5 Total QBR. Brady leads the league in passing yards (1,092) and Total QBR, and he has yet to throw an interception this season. With the Patriots' defense currently ranking last in points allowed, New England will continue to rely on Brady's 40-year-old arm to get it through games.
3rd - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): They pulled out the Texans game, but the defense was a problem again. That has to get fixed.
3rd - Joshua Schrock (NESN): Tom Brady had to engineer a game-winning drive to beat the Houston Texans, but if the Patriots’ defense doesn’t shape up it won’t matter how much good TB12 is.
3rd - Kevin Dillon (MassLive): Like the Packers, the Patriots looked as though they might be starting the season 1-2 until the final minutes of the game. Then, Tom Brady marched his team down the field, and Brandin Cooks finished off the comeback. The Patriots' defense needs to be better — particularly against the pass — but they remain a top team in the league.
3rd - Staff (AP Pro32).
3rd - Staff (USA Today): Tom Brady was entrenched as the GOAT before Sunday's heroics. But this defense is full of, ahem, goats after allowing most points, yards in NFL.
5th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): Considering how the Patriots are giving up yards and points like it’s their job, even to bad offenses like Houston, it seems they sure could use a player like Chandler Jones.
AVERAGE RANK: 2.7 (+.08)