AFC stock reports: Chiefs climb, Colts and Patriots fall
Are the Patriots as good as portrayed?
Easily the most eye-opening game of Week 9 was the Sunday night contest between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots. It took little time for the Ravens and second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson to move down the field and gain an early lead. Baltimore finished the night with a dominant win over the Super Bowl champions, 37-20.
All we have heard through the first half of the season is how legendary the Patriots defense has been playing. While no part of me believes that this was a total fluke, I also recognize, like most fans, that they had yet to play a talented quarterback. Outside of Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1, the Patriots had feasted on backup quarterbacks for much of the year—many of whom had little to no experience.
The Ravens would not beat New England through the air but on the ground with their dynamic rushing attack led by Jackson. After they ran the ball 41 times, Baltimore gained 210 yards on the ground and 3 touchdowns. Jackson completed 17 of 23 passing attempts for 162 yards and a touchdown. It was far from the usual performance we had seen from New England’s defense to this point in the season. Baltimore scored four offensive touchdowns against a defense that had only allowed four offensive touchdowns through the first eight games combined.
It wasn’t just the defensive weaknesses that were exploited. The offense struggled to keep Tom Brady clean in the pocket allowing 10 quarterback hits and two sacks. The offensive line has seen some injuries this season and has yet to look like it’s usual dominant self. That’s good news for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Brady finished the night completing 30 of 46 passes for 285 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Receivers Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu were easily the main focal point of the offense as both hauled in 10 receptions for 81 and 89 yards. While the Patriots running game averaged better yards per attempt than most games, they were unable to keep it part of the gameplan as they were consistently falling behind.
It was an interesting week for the AFC. Teams like the Patriots and Colts, who held the top two seeds in the conference, both fell short of a win. The entire AFC West walked away with victories, Buffalo got back on track against another easy opponent, and the bottom of the standings changed as the Dolphins won a game that the front office was wishing they hadn’t most likely. It was a good week to point out that any team can win any given week in the NFL.