Are there problems in New England? The Patriots seem to be right on schedule with their season-long cycle. They breezed through the early part of their schedule. Now, New England has lost two in a row and everyone is starting the claims that Tom Brady’s career and the team’s reign of dominance are over. Let’s see what happens when the playoffs roll around.
With that being said, the Patriots do seem to have some problems on offense. Lucky for them, they will take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15. If they ever needed a get well game, it was this week and they certainly got it.
Heading into the game, here are two major X-Factors for the defending Super Bowl champions.
2. Sony Michel, Running Back
Michel had an impressive rookie season out of Georgia. This season, not so much. The second-year back has yet to rush for 100 yards in a game with his season-high being 91 yards against the Washington Redskins.
Over the Patriots’ two-game losing streak, Michel has carried the ball 15 times for 53 yards. He hit rock bottom against the Kansas City Chiefs when he was held to eight yards on five carries.
New England used Michel sparingly against the Chiefs because they were coming from behind and James White is their receiving back. This is a perfect game for the Patriots to get Michel going. The Bengals are dead last in the league, allowing 156.7 rushing yards per game. Michel will be an important player come playoff time in Foxborough.
1. Every Skill Position Player
When watching the Patriots, it is visible that they do not have the weapons they have had in the past. Julian Edelman is having his usual season with 90 catches and 1,010 yards. Outside of him, no other receiver has caught 30 passes. Phillip Dorsett and Mohamed Sanu were nonexistent during their Week 14 loss. Brady has not been given much time by his offensive line and when he has, there are no receivers open downfield.
This has to be the ultimate get well game for all positions on New England’s offense. Their defense has not fallen off this season except for one hiccup against the Baltimore Ravens. There is a reason that folks are calling for the Patriots to add Antonio Brown. Their skill players are not performing well at all outside of Edelman. This is the perfect game to get Dorsett, Sanu, and Jakobi Meyers involved early. Rookie N’Keal Harry has also been used sparingly.
If the Patriots want to make their usual Super Bowl run, something will have to change on offense.