That’s it, I’m calling it. The New England Patriots season is over. Following a 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers where quarterback Cam Newton passed the ball to the 49ers not once, not twice, but three times. All of which were all his fault, and not on the sorry receivers that he has been throwing to all season long. Speaking of the receivers, Julian Edelman is expected to miss multiple weeks with a knee injury that required a minor surgery. So now the Patriots have a receiving core consisting of Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry (if he recovers from the concussion suffered last week), Jakobi Meyers, Isaiah Zuber, and Gunner Olszewski. This week they take on the current head of the AFC East in the Buffalo Bills who boast the fourth-best passing offense in the NFL. My hopes aren’t high, but it’s a weekly tradition here for me to preview the Patriots for this week. So set it up Bailey, it’s time to get underway.
Three Keys To The Game
Key #1: Passing Offensive Recovery
The Patriots offense just sucks. Despite having the seventh-best rushing offense in the NFL, they are held back by their third-worst passing offense. They have just three passing touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season as a unit. Both are the worst in the NFL and is truly the catalyst of the Patriots 2-4 record on the season. Heading into Buffalo this week they have to get a passing offense going. Even if the Bills rushing defense is below average, the Patriots can’t afford to be one dimensional. The task is all the tougher without Edelman for the next couple of weeks. Newton is going to have to get his head together and make these offensive weapons work or at 2-5 with a loss, the Patriots are going to really be out of it. There won’t be any doubts about this season being over if they can’t beat their division rival this week.
Key #2: Josh Allen is Human
Listen, we’re all excited and enamored about how well Bills quarterback Josh Allen has been playing through seven games this season. He already has more than 2,000 yards on the season with 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions. Though he’s still just a third-year quarterback and still has his struggles. The Patriots have the fourth-best passing defense in the NFL (although cornerback Stephon Gilmore could be on his way out on the trade deadline), they’re a perfect match to this passing offense. Flustering Allen will go a long way here. Chase Winovich, this is your time to shine.
Key #3: Find The Endzone
The Patriots have put up just 18 points in the last two weeks. This offense is just allergic to the endzone and has been only gaining points off of field goals and it’s killed them. Scoring just one touchdown late in Week Six against the Denver Broncos. The Pats aren’t going to win very many games off of the leg of Nick Folk. This offense needs to figure out a way to end a drive with another version of the kick, a PAT attempt.
X-Factor: WR Jakobi Meyers
With Edelman out for the foreseeable future and Harry possibly missing this game due to his head injury, it’s time for Meyers to step up to the table. He had a handful of great catches last weekend against the 49ers that were huge gains of 20-plus yards. He will likely be the No. 1 receiver if Harry can’t go as Byrd is strictly a go-route specialist. The second-year undrafted free agent is going to have to play a huge role in this passing offense, and I’m still fairly confident in Meyers’ ability to step up to the task. Last season he racked up 26 catches for 359 yards. This season it’s much quieter with just five catches for 67 yards, four of them coming last week for 60 yards. He obviously has the ability to step up, but can he be a sustainable option for Newton (or Jarrett Stidham when Newton gets benched again)?
I recently wrote about why the New England Patriots should be sellers come the trade deadline on Tuesday, so I won’t get too far into the Gilmore rumors. Even if Bill Belichick has refused to give us any sort of confirmation that this was going on, I’d still say it’s probable that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year won’t be a New England Patriot come the trade deadline, or the 2021 season at the very latest.
Focusing on this week’s matchup against Buffalo, I don’t know how even the biggest of homers could guarantee a win against them. Their offense is much better than ours, their defense has nothing to worry about through the air against us. We’re a one-dimensional football team that just got kicked in the teeth in back to back weeks, and are on a three-game losing streak. For just the second time in my tenure of writing these previews, I’m picking against the New England Patriots. There’s no reason to vote in their favor given what we’ve seen the last two weeks offensively. With a loss, this all but wraps up our hopes for a division win and sets the motion for the full-on rebuild we’re going to have to face this off-season. Is there anybody else secretly cheering for Brian Flores at this point?
Final Score: 23-10 Buffalo wins (Patriots fall to 2-5)
Photo Credit: Billie Weiss, Getty Images