Tom Brady and the Patriots look like they’re finally hitting the wall

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 1, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 1, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TX – DECEMBER 1: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is slow to get up after being hit during the second half of a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 1, 2019 in Houston, Texas. The Texans defeated the Patriots 28-22. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Tom Brady and the Patriots offense have had an awful stretch

Tom Brady has seemingly had Father Time’s number for the last decade or so. Year in and year out, as he now enters his mid-forties, he continues to undermine what should be physically possible and play a brutally violent game comprised mostly of spry young twenty-somethings. Not only does he play, but he continues to dominate both the games themselves and the headlines that follow. There’s no question he is the most successful player of all time, and that may never change.

Ironically, given the national fervor the first several weeks of the season generated for this team, Brady himself seems to be having a rather rough go of things lately. Over the last few games he has been absolutely pummeled in the backfield, something that most fans diehard and casual alike are not used to seeing. He’s on pace to be hit 92 times this season, the highest number of hits he will have taken since 2015 and an increase of 35 percent from the 68 hits just a year ago.

Brady’s production has begun to dip substantially in several categories. He’s on pace for 24 touchdowns, which would be the lowest of his career in a season for which he was the full-time starter. His yards per attempt, something Brady has excelled at through the years, is the second lowest of his career only beating out his second season as a full-time starter.

Brady has always been known as an accurate passer, but this year he has seen even that begin to deteriorate. At a 61 percent completion percentage, this would be Brady’s lowest completion rate since 2013 and his second lowest in 15 years.

All this has culminated in his lowest passer rating since 2013, the seventh worst of his career, and and a rank of 17th in QBR falling behind names like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill, and Kyler Murray. When you consider some of the teams the Patriots have played this season, with the easiest schedule in the NFL, these numbers should seem a lot worse.

Brady’s struggles are emblematic of this Patriots offense which has become absolutely anemic over the last several weeks as they’ve entered the more difficult portion of their schedule. In the last four games they’ve averaged a paltry 18 points per game. If it weren’t for the Houston Texans prevent defense to end last Sunday’s game, this number would likely be even worse at 16.25.

From a production standpoint the Patriots struggles are in the same area as the Chiefs weaknesses, which should give Chiefs fans confidence going into the game. The Patriots total offense ranks 14th in the NFL, down 10 spots from a year ago. Ironically, while Brady and his receiving corp have struggled, they are only averaging 1.7 yards less per game than they did a season ago. In truth, this number is likely buoyed by their soft schedule against teams in the AFC East and NFC East divisions.

The irony truly lies in the fact that the Patriots can’t run the ball anymore. Last year this was one of the team’s greatest strengths, ranking fifth with 127.3 ypg. With those same running backs, and an even easier schedule, they now rank 21st with an average of 96.3 yards per game. The Chiefs have still struggled to find ways to consistently stop great running backs, but this running game should not strike as much fear in the hearts of Chiefs fans.

Like always, the Chiefs will get the Patriots best shot

The Patriots have had a rough stretch over the last four weeks, to say the least. However, if you look at their schedule there are some subjective reasons to consider. At the time they played the Ravens, it was still unclear how good that team was. No one expected them to run all over the Patriots. As much as Belichick builds teams up in pressers, it’s likely he didn’t either.

The Eagles have been a dumpster fire this season. While the national media has continued to build them up, given the size of their market and its viewership, there’s little doubt the Patriots had that marked as a win when the schedule came out. In the Cowboys game, the weather was atrocious. As much as the national media applauded the Patriots resolve in that game, it was pretty clear from the outset that neither team wanted to be there.

Finally, the Houston Texans are always an enigma. They always have talent but it also seems they always under perform. My point is, out of all those teams of which the Patriots lost to two, none of them likely got the shot the Patriots will give the Chiefs.

The Chiefs versus the Patriots has become one of the great unofficial rivalries in the NFL for the last several seasons. Since Andy Reid began his tenure with the Chiefs, the Chiefs have won two of the five match ups. It was a back and forth until the Chiefs upset the balance by losing the AFC Championship game.

I wrote a piece about the conspiracy theory that neither team would give their all in this game to win. That’s great in theory, but very tough for competitors in practice. In reality this is a game that Bill Belichick, his son, Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels will likely burn the candle at both ends to prepare for. I know the hot team is the Ravens, but I honestly think that Bill Belichick believes the Chiefs and Andy Reid are his primary adversary to hoisting his seventh Lombardi Trophy as a head coach.

Simply put, while the Patriots haven’t brought their “A” game the past several weeks you can absolutely expect them to be locked in for this one. For the Chiefs to win what has become a critical game, both for potential playoff seeding and overall team confidence, they’ll have to take their play to another level.