The Patriots rolled to an “all-too-easy” 33-8 win over the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City on Sunday afternoon, cementing their place as Super Bowl favorites. Even without Marcus Cannon, David Andrews and Chris Hogan (to go on top of all the other significant injury losses this year), the New England football machine rolls on!
This one wasn’t all that interesting to be honest as the Pats controlled things pretty much from the outset. While I always enjoy a stress-free victory there’s still something unsatisfying about an easy win. But at this point obviously we’ll take it. The offense put some of their red zone troubles behind, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a career-long field goal (62 yards) to go with four others and the defense didn’t surrender a point until the game was already decided.
There’s really not much to complain about at this point of the Patriots season, which is prime spoiled fan area. So much of the rest of the league has fallen back to earth after promising starts, with the Bills leading the way, the Patriots just keep on rolling.
Still plenty to unpack from the win, here are my initial thoughts without a film review in the Posits!
— For all the talk of balance this week this game felt a little more like the Patriots going to the well with their trusted guys. Outside of Dion Lewis (88 total yards), Brandin Cooks (149 receiving yards) and Danny Amendola (8/66) the rest of the offense was fairly quiet in this one. Not that it really mattered, nor am I complaining, I just think it’s a good example of the guys who are are really making the offense go right now.
— Need to take a longer look at Gronkowski to see what held him to only 3 catches and 36 yards. Still his impact was felt. I just don’t know if it’s by design, or it’s what defenses are doing or if Gronk just isn’t getting open like he used to. Don’t want to jump to any of those conclusions, but it’s something to focus on. Really, I’m just happy when we make it to the end of a game and Gronk didn’t break something. So in that regard, one more game down.
— Dion Lewis made it through without breaking anything as well. He continue to show the form that he had in 2015 and of all the x-factors in the AFC, Lewis’ presence might be the biggest when it comes down to it. I mean at this point is there anyone else besides the Pats and Steelers. The Chiefs have now fallen two games behind with a terrible performance against the Giants. I just don’t know who can beat New England outside of the Steelers and that’s only if they have all their guys healthy and play a flawless game. Neither of those things have ever happened in a meaningful game between the two foes.
— I really don’t want to stop caring about the regular season at this point but it’s a little hard with just five AFC East games and the visit to Pittsburgh left. We can all try to fool ourselves into getting excited to see the Dolphins but we all know those games, along with the ones against the Bills will probably be bloodbaths. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about protecting Gronk and others? We saw a bit of that at the end of the Raiders game with Brady, Solder, Gronk and others all getting an early rest. Of course that’s not BB. He’s gonna ride them hard right to the finish line.
— Defensively it was another one of those perfect games that lands right in their lap. Not to minimize their good performance, but the defense really hasn’t had much pressure on them the last few games. They’re definitely playing better but I still don’t think they’re flawless nor incapable of being exposed. But this is the kind of defense we’re used to, just overall solid, not flashy, not dominant, just everyone on the same page doing their proverbial jobs. It’s incredible how effective it is, especially because it’s just so simple.
— I would put Danny Amendola on whatever plan possible to get him to January feeling good. Once again we saw what a clutch receiver he is, and for a team that has lost a lot of clutch this year, they need to preserve every ounce of it that they have.
— Marquis Flowers and Trevor Reilly continue to get some snaps on defense with Cassius Marsh out. Flowers showed up on the forced fumble in example number 1,768 of a random Patriot stepping up and making plays after not even starting the year with the team.
— It’s games like this where we all take Tom Brady for granted. Yes, Oakland’s secondary was terrible but Brady’s performances continue to be on another level, with this one maybe being his strongest of the season. Boy do I enjoy watching a quarterback who has all the answers to the test.
— This game was won last week of course, with the Patriots staying on the road, practicing at altitude then attacking the Raiders with pace early in the game. The Raiders just never had a chance to get started because the Pats were so prepared to play this game.
— This is one of those weird defensive games where the points look great but the box score scouts will find the things to complain about — not great on third down, just one sack… Yes, I’m grasping here, because that’s what they do, grasp for things to hot take. This year somewhat reminds me of 2010. The defense is better than it was then, but I still think the right opponent on the right night could expose them. Doesn’t mean it will happen and I’m sure they’ll be competitive the rest of the way, but they don’t have my trust like the offense does.
— Nice game for Gostkowski. I’ve once again resigned my worries about him. Maybe I’ll regret that, but right now he’s kicking the ball as well as he ever has.
— Now all that matters is homefield and that will likely be decided when the Patriots visit the Steelers in four weeks. Of course something crazy could happen (more likely to the Steelers) where someone gets bounced in the divisional round, but has there ever been a more predictable AFC Championship than Pats-Steelers? Yes, the Pats have owned Pittsburgh in the playoffs (3-0) but I can’t help but worry that the Steelers have the game needed to beat the Pats in them somewhere.
I guess at this point that worry is the only thing keeping the season interesting.