Sunday was just what the doctor ordered to revive the flatlining Patriots: A visit from the Miami Defibrillators and an easy-does-it 38-7 victory. In a stress-free game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score, the team and the fans were jolted back to life — almost as if the previous two weeks in a coma were only a dream.
With no time to really
gloat obnoxiously absorb the win, the Patriots play the Colts tomorrow night at Gillette. Thursday Night Football is not for the weak. New England is already at the top of the NFL with players on Injured Reserve, and it’s a good bet Rob Gronkowski (ankle) sits out tomorrow to heal up before facing Kansas City in Week 6. Seems as if Indianapolis may be in the same boat with their star WR T. Y. Hilton among their own ruled-out wounded.
Here’s hoping for another booster-shot of winicillon at Indy’s expense, to keep the team on track and back atop the AFC East where we all know they belong. Pats win by 14.
Around the AFC East:
New England (2-2) vs. Indianapolis (1-3)
Miami (3-1) at Cincinnati (3-1)
Buffalo (1-3) vs. Tennessee (3-1)
NY Jets (1-3) vs. Denver (2-2)
Kansas City (4-0) vs. Jacksonville (3-1)
Baltimore (3-1) at Cleveland (1-2-1)
LA Chargers (2-2) vs. Oakland (1-3)
Pittsburgh (1-2-1) vs. Atlanta (1-3)
Houston (1-3) vs. Dallas (2-2)
4th - Tyler Lauletta, Scott Davis (Business Insider): One thing to know: With Julian Edelman set to rejoin the Patriots this week, expect their bounce back to continue after an underwhelming start to the season.
4th - Christopher Price (BostonSportsJournal): Probably a little high, but after Sunday’s performance, it appears things are pointed in the right direction again. And the return of Julian Edelman should only help matters. Going to be fascinated to see the New England-Kansas City matchup on Oct. 14.
5th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): Just 10 catches and 105 yards for Rob Gronkowski the past three weeks. That’s usually a good day for him. Gronk hasn’t fallen off, but it’s clear teams won’t let him beat them. Julian Edelman’s return this week might open some things up.
5th - MMQB Staff (SI): Perhaps history will chortle that we had the Patriots outside the Top 10 last week. But they totally deserved it, even though they looked like their old Top 5 selves against Miami.
5th - Experts (ESPN): Rookie snaps leader: LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, 134 snaps out of 255 (52.5 percent). Bentley was placed on injured reserve last week due to an undisclosed injury. Bentley was the only rookie to start for New England in Week 1, and he was the first rookie to start on defense for the Patriots in a season opener since Malcolm Butler in 2015.
5th - Nate Davis (USA Today): To quote George Bush 43: “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” Apologies to all in New England.
5th - Logan Mullen (NESN): Folks are breathing easy in New England, and for good reason. The Patriots climbed back up to .500, which is a pretty typical winning percentage for them in September. Oh, and they’re getting more weapons back with Julian Edelman’s suspension now over.
5th - Amy Parlapiano (The Athletic): They’re baaaaaack. In a truly stunning turn of events that absolutely no one saw coming, the Patriots look like they might not be totally broken after all. Sony Michel finally had a breakthrough game, running for 125 yards on 25 carries, and there’s life again in Foxboro. Shocking, I know.
5th - Expert Consensus (Bleacher Report): It’s becoming an annual thing with the Patriots.
New England suffers an ugly loss in September that spawns 137 articles regarding what’s “wrong” with the Patriots. There is much hand-wringing and proclamations that this is it—the dynasty is dead.
Then Tom Brady and the boys go out and obliterate some poor schmuck and serve notice that reports of New England’s demise have been exaggerated.
The previously unbeaten Dolphins played the part of the schmuck in Week 4. This was a game that was essentially over before it started—New England led 24-0 at the half and dominated the action on both sides of the ball.
Despite the blowout, the Pats have issues. The defense isn’t very good, and the receiving corps isn’t fear-inducing.
But the Patriots get Julian Edelman back next week, and last season the defense improved vastly once the calendar turned to October.
Annoying though it may be, the Patriots aren’t going anywhere.
Except for the playoffs—again.
6th - Joe Giglio (NJ.com): Never, ever worry about the Patriots in September.
6th - Elliot Harrison (NFL.com): You have to laugh, don’t you? Took so much grief in this space and on THE TWITTER for leaving the Patriots in shouting distance of the top 10 last week. Dolphins fans howled about their team being 3-0. And then New England slaughtered ‘em. It was never a contest. Miami couldn’t even muster 200 yards of total offense. Here’s the deal: For years, we’ve heard the tired, old story about how the AFC East has sucked during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick Era. Sure, there might be a bit of truth to that theorem. But who do you think made those teams look worse? You can try to say the Patriots have lucked out with their competition while barking about your Fins, but for your argument to hold, Miami ought to have shown up and ... well ... done anything but lose 38-7.
6th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): In New England, two straight ugly losses is the new ugly loss.
7th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots kept it simple with running game and defense, and it worked, combining to also assist in getting Tom Brady going again.
7th - Staff (AP Pro32).
7th - John McClain (Houston Chronicle): The Patriots obliterated Miami 38-7, the first of three consecutive games at Gillette Stadium. Next up are Indianapolis and Kansas City.
8th - Mark Maske (Washington Post): Things are looking up for the Patriots after they responded to their latest September crisis with Sunday’s lopsided triumph over the Dolphins. Josh Gordon made his Patriots debut in that game and fellow WR Julian Edelman returns this week from his suspension. Now comes a quick turnaround for Thursday night’s meeting with the Colts before a Sunday night matchup 10 days later with the Chiefs.
8th - Rebecca Toback (SB Nation): On the Rise - With a lot of the teams in last week’s top 10 losing, the Saints were able to climb the rankings. The same goes for the Patriots after a dominant win over the previously undefeated Dolphins.
11th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): So much for burying the Patriots. They can still get it done when they need to do so and remain the class of the AFC East.
12th - Dave Birkett (Detroit Free Press): The buzz: Julian Edelman is back, and the Patriots’ demise was overstated.
13th - Bryan Fischer (Athlon Sports): The safest bet in the league on Sunday was for the Patriots to bounce back at home against the Dolphins. It was encouraging to see the run game get going but the bigger development might be that seven spot the defense allowed (which really was a shutout prior to garbage time).
AVERAGE RANK: 6.7 (+4.8)
SB NATION SAMPLING:
5th - Brandon Lee Gowton (BleedingGreenNation): Classic Patriots. Fall down to 1-2 and bounce back with a dominant 38-7 win over a previously undefeated Miami team. (Where have I seen that final score before?)
5th - David Fucillo (NinersNation): I bumped the Patriots up to No. 5. New England is 2-2, but that win over Miami was a statement game.
6th - Kevin Nogle (Phinsider): All six of the top teams this week won their games, with each, other than the Rams, moving up one spot as the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, and New England Patriots hold the remaining slots.