When the Patriots looked to be struggling at the beginning of the season, people kinda started freaking out. They’d lost back to back to the Jags and the Lions, and all of a sudden, the Dolphins were leading the division. But after Thursday night’s game, people have started to cool their jets a little. Sure, the Patriots are only 3-2 right now, not what we usually expect from this dominant Super Bowl team. But because they still have Tom Brady and an explosive (and ever-growing) offense, they’re still probably one of the best teams in the NFL. Here’s why…
Just when it looked like they might be in some actual trouble, the Patriot’s 38-24 win over the Colts proved that no, we don’t need to fear for New England. Not yet at least.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman was back on Thursday after a four-game suspension alongside Rob Gronkowski, giving Tom Brady a couple of his favorite targets. This is the first time in almost two years that these two guys have been on the field at the same time, which could mean trouble for future Pats opponents. Edelman made seven catches for 57 yards (and yes, one drop on a third down at the start of the game), but he certainly elevates the Patriots offense.
And well, as always, Gronk is Gronk.
James White created an additional weapon for New England. He had ten catches for 77 yards plus a touchdown, and he might just be one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL. White is reliable too, averaging over 60 yards per game (yeah, better than Gronk and Edelman), but he’s cool with the fact that he’s not getting much recognition. Another player we’ll start to hear more from? Rookie running back Sony Michel, who rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. No doubt he’ll find some big places to contribute this season. Brady can find these guys all over the field.
Adding Josh Gordon was just icing on the cake. Though he was quiet for the majority of the Colts’ game, he had two catches for 50 yards. Brady is able to throw deep bombs to him. And he did…
Tom Brady… of course
Tom Brady threw his 500th touchdown to Gordon on Thursday night. He connected with Gordon for a 39-yard pass in the fourth quarter, giving Brady the third-highest number of career touchdown passes by any quarterback in the NFL. (He’s just behind Brett Favre at 508 and Peyton Manning at 538). And he’s done it all with the Patriots. While Brady admitted it was a big milestone, he gave credit to Gordon, the defense, and the coaches… what a guy! That is one handsome and humble 41-year-old. This was only Gordon’s second game with the Patriots and he said he felt pretty honored to be a part of the benchmark.
Oh, and in case you were curious, Brady threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns overall. And he ran for one. Because he’s still Tom Brady.
Arguably the best quarterback of all time, does he want a sixth Super Bowl ring and more TD passes than Peyton Manning? Will he ride off into the sunset if he manages to win another one this year? And will Gronk go with him? Guess we’ll have to wait and see how this season pans out…
Sure, the offense wasn’t always pretty. There were some dropped balls, turnovers, and missed passes, but they got the job done. And it kinda feels like they’re just starting to vibe. Dangit.
The Pats defense isn’t amazing just yet. While they controlled the first half, holding the Colts to just three, Indianapolis really put up some points on the board in the second half and things got a little ugly. The New England defense let Andrew Luck and his guys score three touchdowns, rallying to within six points before getting it under control.
Patriots safety Duron Harmon says they should’ve finished stronger. And Patrick Chung, who caught a critical interception at the end of first half and gave the Pats time for a field goal, says they’ve gotta work on consistency.
So was this game a decent matchup or even a fair test of the Patriots abilities? Maybe we should ask what was up with the Colts instead. Andrew Luck played well, but he’s now 0-6 in his career games against the Patriots. With 13 injured starters on Thursday, Luck just didn’t have much help. It’s surprising they even made it a game, to be honest.
But, guys, despite those early September losses by the Patriots, Vegas still believes in them. Even before Thursday’s win over the Colts, New England remained one of the top picks to win Super Bowl 53.
Odds via Oddsshark on October 2:
|Los Angeles Rams||+350|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+700|
|New England Patriots||+800|
|New Orleans Saints||+1200|
Soon we’ll get to see the Pats take on an extraordinarily tough-looking Kansas City Chiefs team and that will be a true test of where they stand. You can bet that’ll be a high-scoring game and a real battle of the quarterbacks.