I like Trent Brown’s word for Sunday’s 15-10 win over the Jets — “Grimy.” Indeed, it was a grimy, tough division win on the road.
As much as Pats fans were happy to get the “W” and not be lost in the 0-3 hole, the experts were not impressed. They boosted New England up a couple notches in the rankings — everyone that is except the writer from Touchdown Wire, who actually bumped them down a point and threw in a few insults to boot. What a guy.
The not-so-scary Patriots have become the league’s favorite piñata with whacks coming in from all sides. Every win comes with an asterisk and each loss gets picked clean down to the carcass. Tough climate. Next week the Pats face the Cowboys in Dallas. On Sunday, the Cowboys lost to the Arizona Cardinals after being monster favorites (12.5) to win. Early odds for Week 4 list them as 7-point home favorites vs. New England.
Here’s why I like the Patriots chances. Dallas already informed the media they have taken precautions against the Patriots potentially stealing their signals. Not a confident mindset. It’s almost admitting outright they’re afraid they might lose.
Reminds me of Week 7 in 2015 when the Jets asked the league to sweep the visitors locker room for bugs at Gillette Stadium ahead of the game. Patriots won 30-23. That used to be called bulletin board material. We’ll see who pins who on Sunday.
Around the AFC East:
16th - Jarrett Bailey (TouchdownWire): Had the Patriots not played a Big East team on Sunday, they’d be 0-3. This putrid offense is enough to make you look forward to going to the DMV. [-1]
16th - Staff (The Ringer). [nc]
17th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): The Patriots kicked a field goal on their first possession of the second half, then the offense took the rest of the day off. The last six possessions resulted in six punts. They got just four first downs on those six drives. The Jets have a good defense but the Patriots’ offense still needs to get a lot better. [+3]
17th - Matt Johnson (SportsNaut): Considering the state of the Jets’ offense, New England Patriots fans can’t feel elated with how close Sunday’s victory was. Yet, heading into Week 4, New England can feel great about its defense and the offensive line is starting to get healthy. A healthy O-line means far more running room for Rhamondre Stevenson and we can see the best from Mac Jones. [+2]
17th - Nate Davis (USA Today): They head to Dallas with Ezekiel Elliott performing as their best back. But beware, New Englanders, as your team is 1-8 against the Cowboys without Tom Brady in the lineup. [+3]
17th - Josh Schrock (NBC Sports Chicago): Bill Belichick against a bad quarterback? Never a doubt the Patriots would get in the win column in Week 3. [+4]
18th - Eric Edholm (NFL.com): Sunday’s win had to be so familiar to Patriots fans by now: ugly and against the Jets. Ugly got the job done, though. Even during the worst doldrums last season, the Pats knew what they were getting from Jakobi Meyers and Rhamondre Stevenson. So far, the Meyers-for-JuJu Smith-Schuster swap-out has been a net negative, and Stevenson hasn’t been as decisive this season. The Patriots really need Mac Jones and Smith-Schuster to develop chemistry on the fly after the receiver missed a lot of on-field time this offseason. But they also need the offensive line to play better. This team is behind the sticks way too often. [+7]
19th - Consensus (Bleacher Report): The Patriots headed into Week 3 in desperate need of a win after dropping two straight to open the season. New England got that win—but even in victory the offensive concerns that surround these Pats remain. QB Mac Jones was OK but not much more than that, completing just over 50 percent of his pass attempts for 201 yards. The Pats ran the ball a whopping 40 times, but averaged fewer than four yards a carry. ...As it usually does, New England’s defense played well, allowing just 171 total yards.
But the Patriots continue to struggle to move the ball consistently, especially against talented defenses like the Jets. And with no easy solution to that particular issue in sight, it’s hard to view the Patriots as any kind of real threat in the AFC East. [+6]
20th - Staff (The Score): Christian Gonzalez has been outstanding for the Patriots thus far. The rookie corner has an interception, three pass breakups, a sack, and an 84.4 PFF grade. [+5]
21st - Dalton Miller (ProFootballNetwork): The Patriots avoided falling to 0-3 for the first time since Bill Belichick’s first season as their head coach in 2000 with a win over the Jets. The New England defense remains one of the most well-rounded units in the league. The offense moved the ball here and there against New York, but they didn’t have a single drive with more than three first downs, only managing that feat twice during the game. They punted six times in a row in the second half while gaining only four first downs in the process. [+2]
21st - NFL Nation (ESPN): Offensive efficiency: 25.5 (26th). Biggest issue on offense: Lack of explosive plays. TE Pharaoh Brown’s 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Jets was one of the plays of the game and easily the team’s longest of the season. The Patriots have just three passing plays over 20 yards (58, 32, 23). “Those are statistically the hardest passes to hit, but we’ve got to hit them, we’ve got to throw them and we need more production out of the deep balls,” coach Bill Belichick said. — Mike Reiss. [+3]
22nd - Karen Guregian (MassLive): Bill Belichick vs. Zach Wilson. Just too easy. And way too predictable. Wilson is puddy in Belichick’s hands. [+2]
22nd - Conor Orr (SI): The Patriots beat the Jets in a way they seem to have developed a fetish for, which is holding their palm against New York’s forehead and laughing as they try to advance and attack. These are rarely high-scoring affairs, which means we learn little about the progress of New England’s offense. Still, the Patriots avoid a critical 0–3 hole and springboard into a fascinating game against the potentially vulnerable Dallas Cowboys. [+2]
23rd - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): Thanks to the Jets, Bill Belichick has a good chance to avoid landing in the AFC East basement for the first time since 2000. [+3]
23rd - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots didn’t impress all that much grinding their offense around Mac Jones, but they got enough points, including from their defense, to take down the Jets and avoid 0-3 for Bill Belichick. [+2]
23rd - Ryan Dunleavy (NY Post).
24th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): They beat the Jets for their first victory of the season, but it was far from impressive. The defense has been solid all year. [+4]
AVG RANK: 19.8 (+2.4)