The New England Patriots looked so bad in their 34-10 clobbering at the hands of the Tennessee Titans that it is a minor miracle that they fell just three spots in the Week 11 NFL Power Rankings.
Coming in at No. 5, the Patriots look like the weakest link as the season begins to wind down. With the Kansas City Chiefs now two games ahead in the overall AFC standings, any chance of securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs seem bleak.
If there is ever a year they need home field, it appears to be this year. With the Tennessee game now topping their worst performances of the season, the Patriots have not played well on the road even in the two victories they have.
With how the team looked Sunday afternoon, one could make the argument that the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 6) should actually be ranked ahead of them.With Rob Gronkowski standing on the sideline, Julian Edelman hobbled and Tom Brady looking like a shell of himself, the Patriots will have a lot of work to do heading into their bye week. But, one can never count a Bill Belichick-Tom Brady team out at any point of the season. They have their problems, but the team is still 7-3 and barely holding on to the No. 2 spot in the conference.
A healthy Gronk, a healthier offensive line and Brady simply playing better should be the cure the team needs to find their stride through the final six games of the season. The defense will also have to get better and more consistent, but if any coach can figure it out, it is Bill Belichick.
As dire as Week 10’s loss looked on the field, there are a few positives for the team. Again, Gronkowski should be back fresh and as healthy as he can be, Julian Edelman will be refreshed, Josh Gordon will have more reps in practice, Sony Michel will be healthier, and Rex Burkhead could possibly return. Add all those weapons to Brady’s arsenal and the offense should at least be much better.Defensively, the New England Patriots have to find toughness on the road and not fold when things are not going their way. With Trey Flowers leading the way, the front seven has to stop getting pushed around and create more consistent pressure on quarterbacks. They seem to be able to do it at Gillette Stadium, but can’t figure it out on the road.
The secondary can help this by having better communication and not allowing big plays early in the game.Right now, that No. 5 ranking seems generous. But the team is not that far away from getting it together and playing their best football when it really counts.