New England Patriots

New England can’t look much worse than it did Sunday against Buffalo

Now that the Patriots have crashed with a second resounding thud – even louder than the one in Indianapolis – the analysis need not be detailed.

The Buffalo Bills smoked them Sunday afternoon because:

  1. The Pats’ defense can’t get away with being so brittle against good teams.
  2. Mac Jones really is a rookie.
  3. The Bills are better.

All three are certainly plausible. They are even plausible as a hat trick.

Going from the bottom up:

Buffalo was largely favored to win the division when the season began for good reason. Many self-proclaimed NFL prophets said the Bills’ time has come to stand atop the pig-pile that now stands as the AFC.

They have wobbled, and for a time Sunday seemed fully capable of blowing an excellent opportunity to take charge of their own fate.

The Bills’ offense didn’t simply win the battle, they swatted aside the Patriots as if they were a cluster of mildly annoying flies.

And when the Patriots looked as though they might actually be able to pull off an upset, Buffalo smothered them, reinforcing the unkind reality that the AFC East really does belong to the Bills.

The game in the arctic climes last month was nothing but a pop fly-turned-home run by the icy winds. In the 21st century, NFL teams don’t win games on the merits by throwing the ball three times.

Which brings us to Jones. His performance Sunday reminded one and all that the kid really is a kid. Had Jones turned in such a stinker three months ago it would have been greeted by shrugs. Progress of rookie quarterbacks must be measured on a scale weighted by patience, with a degree of failure built into his QB rating.

Of course, since ratings are the product of numbers, Jones’ 34.1 passer mark is awful. He threw the ball 32 times and his teammates caught 14 of them; Buffalo caught two.

The Pats couldn’t pass the ball and were largely ineffective running the ball. Take away those two options and sustaining drives longer than 9 yards becomes quite challenging.

The Bills, meanwhile, had no trouble at all moving the ball. Josh Allen completed 30 of 47 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns. He ran for 64 yards on 12 carries. He toyed with the Patriots, fooling them more often than not.

Please note that Allen gets full credit here for the Bills’ offensive performance. His coach, Sean McDermott, paces the sidelines doing more cheerleading than strategizing.

Despite him, the Bills remain the best team in the AFC East.

As for the Patriots, the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars could not be stumbling into Foxborough at a better time.

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