12 / 28 / 2018
  - 11:52:17 AM
The State Of The New England Patriots Heading Into The Final Week Of The Regular Season!

By MyFM'S John Wilbur - The New England Patriots will have to overcome some regular season woes if the plan is to play in that first and only game in February. Right now looking at week 17 just a few days away, the talk is about the weapons that Tom Brady doesn’t have this season, especially after wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended indefinitely by the league for violating the terms of his agreement for reinstatement. All that coupled with the fact that Rob Gronkowski is a shell of himself compared to previous years. Gronk has been hurt but is also showing signs of wear at the end of a long season. Gronkowski turned to the TB12 method of training before last season and has lost an obvious and significant amount of muscle mass and power. The man that used to command a double and triple team was targeted just three times in week 16 and caught only two of those passes. Julian Edelman has been good and seems to be hitting mid season form after having to sit out the first four games do to a suspension for testing positive for a performance enhancer. Rex Burkhead is back and seemingly healthy as is James White with the two of them joining the Rookie Sony Michelle in the backfield and racking up the yardage. The running game was big against Buffalo and some are speculating that the Pats are turning to the ground game because Brady is dealing with an injury to his Right Knee. Reports have the quarterback ailing from a torn MCL a claim Brady has neither confirmed nor denied. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has filled in nicely in the backfield and has come up big a few times in that position but Brady needs more targets that he trust. Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett have both barely factored into the season. With Hogan seeing a handful of passes in the past couple of games and Dorsett just getting back on the field after the loss of Josh Gordon. New England will need to put more points on the board than they have been recently in order to play in their third Super Bowl in four years. On the other side of the field the defense has been inconsistent at best. Last week against the Bills they were lights out, but the week before against Miami the defense fell asleep in the end and allowed Miami to stay in the game the entire day. The Linebacking core of Kyle Van Noy, Donte` Hightower and Elandon Roberts have been playing well and putting pressure on the backfield when needed. Patrick Chung, Devon and Jason McCourty and Stephon Gilmore are starting to seal up the Safety and Cornerback spots after struggling early on with the long ball. The Patriots rely on strong special teams play and they have continued to get that all season long, with several blocked punts and a couple of long returns. Mathew Slater heads up the special teams unit and again has been the the man the team turns to for guidance. There have been some coaching blunders as well this season and Bill Bellichik would be the first to tell you it starts with coaching first and that his team needs to be better in all fazes of the game, coaching, playing and executing. As it stands heading into week 17 the Pats can get a bye in the first round and will most likely be the number two seed behind the Chiefs who New England holds the head to head meeting over beating Kansas City earlier this year. This is when the best teams rise to the top of their game and it will be interesting to see if the Patriots are up to the task that will lead them to Georgia and their fourth Super Bowl in five years!

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