The New England Patriots are no longer undefeated. Oh well. At least Rob Gronkowski is not done for the year. This week, they will return home to face the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are also coming off a loss, after getting smoked by the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.
The offense for the Patriots is still an unknown. Rob Gronkowski is out, but Danny Amendola does return. The running back position is a mess when they play somebody with a decent run defense. And Josh McDaniels is coming off possibly his worst game plan as an offensive coordinator. (Hey Josh, the go-route to Chandler down the right side line wasn’t there. Try something else.) I’d love to see Trey Williams become the new Dion Lewis, but who knows if we even see Williams today. Anyway, the Patriots at least face an Eagles defense that is absolutely dreadful. They are 25th in the league in total defense, sitting at 20th in pass defense and 27th in run defense. To put it simply, they’re terrible on the defensive side of the ball.
The Patriots defense we do not seem to have to worry about. Their front seven is arguably the best in the league, and their secondary has had a quietly spectacular season. Malcolm Butler looks like a true number one receiver and Logan Ryan has been great on the other side. Even Patrick Chung is playing well.
However, with Dont’a Hightower most likely missing this game with an MCL sprain, and who knows about Jamie Collins, the Patriots could struggle against the Eagles’ rushing offense at times. Collins will play, but after missing a month, will he be the same guy right away? They have three very capable running backs in DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Sproles. Without at least one of those linebackers on the field and at the peak of their game, the Patriots could struggle to stop the three-headed monster.
The main thing that the Patriots have to do in this game, and going forward, is stay healthy. Every New England fan thought that the season was lost when we saw Gronk writhing on the field in pain. It looks like they caught a break there. However, they cannot afford to lose anybody else. Dion Lewis is done for the season. As is Nate Solder. Julian Edelman will not be back until the playoffs. Hightower’s absence played a huge factor in the run game. He will need a few weeks but should be back for the playoff push.
Broncos rushing stats before Hightower injury: 15 carries, 43 yards. Broncos after Hightower injury: 17 carries, 136 yards, 3 TD.— Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy) November 30, 2015
If all of these players return to the field and play at the high level of play they are known for, and the Patriots do not suffer any more catastrophic injuries, this team should be able to win it all. Even with the injuries, they should be able to pull it out this week.