Patriots Derangement Syndrome is real, and it’s spectacular. Rich Hill measures out a dose of perspective.
Through 9 games in 2018, the Patriots scored 270 points. In 2019, they've scored 270 points.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) November 5, 2019
Through 9 games in 2018, the Patriots allowed 202 points. In 2019, they've allowed 98 points.
In 2018, the experts ranked the 7-2 Patriots between 2nd and 4th, pretty close to where they are being pegged this week. The main difference being last year the Pats had put together a six-game win streak after starting the year 1-2. The trend was inching upwards.
Last week the Pats were undefeated and, except for one vote for 2nd place, sat atop the rankings. With the misfortune of (gulp) losing a single game on the road they’ve been dropped a few notches, triggering open season on a failing dynasty. Can you spell C-L-I-F-F?
Reading through the contradictory comments, the turmoil is evident. From ‘the offense had no luck going no-huddle’, to ‘the offense saw improvement’. And the questioning of ‘whether it’s fair to at least ask if we were overrating the Patriots during the first half of the season’ to conceding ‘they’re almost certain to have home-field throughout the AFC playoffs anyway.’ Was the loss an outlier, or merely the first missed step down a steep 5-game flight of stairs? Enquiring minds want to know.
That’s why they get paid the big bucks.
New England heads into the bye week like I do on the weekend - with a lengthy to-do list in hand. Bill Belichick has always been big on self-scouting and figuring out how to fix what he knows the Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs have already targeted for exploitation. Belichick has already hinted at what’s first on the list: Fundamentals. It’s one thing for defenders to be in the right place, but another thing altogether to make the proper tackle. You can bet that will be an emphasis at practice when the team reconvenes after some well-earned time away. Rest and heal up, men. It’s full steam ahead after the break.
Around the AFC East:
New England Patriots (8-1) - Bye Week
Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) at Tennessee Titans(4-5)
Houston Texans (6-3) - Bye Week
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) - Bye week
Denver Broncos (3-6) - Bye Week
1st - Tom E. Curran (NBC Sports): AFC Rankings. Ironic thing about Sunday night? The 8-1 Patriots offense had its best game of the season (aside from the fever-dream in Miami). Their defense – obviously – had its worst game but still was able to rectify things on the fly to a high degree. The Ravens had a better plan, made more plays and didn’t beat themselves. But I think the Patriots are going to be a much better team because of what they saw on the field Sunday night.
1st - Darryl Slater (NJ.com): Analysis: So much for 16-0. But we still have them on top.
2nd - NFL Nation (ESPN): Scary trend: 369 rushing yards allowed over past two games. The defense that the Patriots play most is a nickel package, with two big defensive tackles, four linebackers and five defensive backs, and the Browns (159 yards) and Ravens (210) had success running the ball over the past two weeks. Getting back to playing fundamental football, with better fits in the run game, is a good place to start.
2nd - Mike Cole (NESN): The run defense is an issue, allowing 5.9 yards per carry the last two weeks. Things won’t get any easier after the bye with Philly’s two-headed run attack followed by Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys. But it’s obviously too early to fret in Foxboro after just one loss.
2nd - Peter Botte (NY Post): Flaws that didn’t show themselves during an 8-0 start against teams with a combined record of 17-40 this season (including 6-2 Buffalo, and two wins over the Jets) were exposed in a 37-20 crushing Sunday night by Baltimore. The schedule only gets tougher from here for the Belichicks with games against Philly, Dallas, Houston and Kansas City in succession following this week’s bye.
T-2 - Jenny Vrentas (SI): The defending champs turned in their first turd of the season as the top-ranked defense had few answers for Lamar Jackson. Mohammed Sanu appears to be getting up to speed, but a pitiful run game (74 rushing yards) and lack of identity are hurting this offense.
2nd - Doug Farrar (TouchdownWire): It was bound to happen, and Baltimore was bound to do it. From the origins of the Wildcat formation in 2008 to Colin Kaepernick’s four-touchdown performance in 2012, Bill Belichick defenses have been vulnerable against option concepts and mobile quarterbacks. New England’s historically great defense looked anything but great in a 37-20 loss, overpursuing Lamar Jackson on simple read-option stuff and getting gashed across the line as the Ravens racked up 210 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 41 carries. What probably will bother Belichick even more than that as he reviews the tape is a Patriots offense that tried to go no-huddle as it did in the early 2010s, but to little avail. Baltimore’s improved defense maintained its composure through 65 plays, and the Ravens offense simply chewed up enough clock to keep Tom Brady off the field for just over 37 minutes. The defensive performance was likely an aberration, given the truth that there’s only one Lamar Jackson in the NFL. The offensive performance, in that Belichick’s coaching crew tried a bunch of clock trickery to no avail, could be the weakness that keeps popping up as the Patriots move toward what they hope will be another Super Bowl run.
3rd - Staff (AP Pro32).
3rd - Lindsay Jones (The Athletic): The Patriots failed their first serious test of the season and dropped out of the top spot in our rankings for the first time in 2019. But — and yes, there is a big but here — the Patriots remain the top AFC team in our poll, a sign of our panel’s confidence in Bill Belichick’s defense’s ability to rebound from the loss to the Ravens and for the Patriots to continue their march to the No. 1 seed.
3rd - Consensus (Bleacher Report): The mighty have fallen. Actually, the previously unbeaten New England Patriots didn’t so much fall on Sunday night. They were pushed down a flight of steps. The Ravens punished New England’s vaunted defense, piling up over 200 rushing yards. The Patriots have problems. The offensive line isn’t especially good. The receiving corps is better after adding Mohamed Sanu, but it’s still far from exceptional. The ground game didn’t even get 75 yards against Baltimore.
“It’s fair to at least ask if we were overrating the Patriots during the first half of the season,” Gagnon said. “They were outplayed badly by the Ravens in a game that was more lopsided than the score would seem to indicate. It wouldn’t be surprising if they had trouble against Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston and/or Kansas City following their Week 10 bye. But will that matter? They’re almost certain to have home-field throughout the AFC playoffs anyway.” Davenport is more in tune with the end of that statement. “Yes, the Patriots have some issues that were exposed Sunday night,” he said. “But it seems like every year there’s a ‘What’s wrong with the Pats?’ game, which is usually followed by a winning streak and a deep playoff run. The Patriots are the Patriots partly because of their ability to bounce back from adversity and fix problems as they arise. “All due credit to the Ravens, but New England remains the class of the AFC until someone knocks it out of the postseason.”
3rd - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): The Patriots began their season with eight straight wins, with nearly all of those victories coming by landslide. That dominance is what made Sunday night’s 17-point loss to the Ravens such a surreal sight. This Patriots team has been led by its defense, but when Lamar Jackson marched Baltimore on a pair of 14-play touchdown drives in the second half, it showed that the unit is not nearly as invincible as originally thought. In Week 8, a bad Browns team rushed for 159 yards against New England. The Ravens went over 200 yards on the same night the Patriots’ own running game fizzled once again in limited duty. It was a bad night, no doubt, but this is hardly time for panic at Patriot Way. Bill Belichick gets a nicely timed Week 10 bye to get healthy and clean up some of the deficiencies that have popped up. The Pats’ next opponent (the Eagles) should be worried.
3rd - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots got ripped by the Ravens before a much-needed bye week. Some of the issues they were having in smaller doses against weaker opponents all came to a head against an explosive, run-heavy team that dominated both time of possession and the scoreboard. New England is still the AFC favorite, but there’s a lot more doubt now with a tougher schedule ahead.
3rd - Mark Maske (Washington Post): The possibility of a 16-0 regular season, duplicating the feat of the 2007 Patriots, is lost. So, too, is the prospect of the first 19-0 season in NFL history. So be it. The Patriots are all about winning Super Bowls, and that remains a distinct possibility. But the defense has had issues against the run in two straight games. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson was too much to handle Sunday night. And, at this point, the offense does not appear capable of winning a game that becomes a score-fest.
3rd - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): I considered keeping the Patriots at No. 2, and think the margin between them and the 49ers is razor thin. The Patriots are still fantastic. One loss doesn’t change that. If there’s any concern for New England, it’s that the offense may be good but not great. Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu had 20 combined catches for only 170 yards. We’ve seen the Patriots use the short passing game better than anyone, but they need explosion in the passing game. It’s where Josh Gordon will be missed.
4th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): It’s just one loss, but they looked really bad on defense against the Ravens. That won’t happen again. They will use that loss as motivation.
4th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): The Ravens may have provided the next four opponents with a blueprint for beating New England, especially since each of them (Eagles, Cowboys, Texans, Chiefs) has a mobile quarterback.
4th - Nate Davis (USA Today): Exposed? Tripped up by bad matchup? Or are apparent cracks in armor growing? Time to patch them up as more formidable opponents await on other side of bye.
AVERAGE RANK: 2.6