The New England Patriots suffered another 1 possession loss today versus the Houston Texans. A win would have pushed the record back to 5-5, and coupled with the Miami Dolphins loss this afternoon, would have really pushed the Patriots into contention for a playoff spot. Instead, they sit two games behind the Dolphins (and Baltimore Ravens) and are left trying to pick up the pieces of another tough loss.
Every week the Patriots become a different team. One week the defense locks down Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, and the next they get throttled by Deshaun Watson. Despite the fact that Watson made a number of terrific throws into some tight windows, the secondary produced an awful effort. Too often was a zone getting busted, or a man getting left in the dust by a Texans wideout. This is starting to become a growing concern, as it isn’t the first time the secondary has been off its game, and time is running out fix it. The run defense was good, but considering that David Johnson was out, that should be taken with a grain of salt.
To piggyback off that, the offense looked completely different today as well. The running game was ineffective after the first quarter, which forced Newton to have to carry the load. I understand the Pats fell behind quite early, but even when they tried to turn to it in the second half there wasn’t much room to be found. The passing game continues to be baffling, but for the reason that it looks good. So much of an emphasis is put on running because the passing offense is bad, but Newton threw for 365 yards. Josh McDaniels should work on balancing out the offense, because Newton can play. Damiere Byrd took his turn at carrying the load today, and with Jakobi Meyers lined up across from him, Newton has two targets he’s proven to have a strong rapport with. There’s no sense in holding it back until absolutely necessary, and if the Patriots are going to have a fighting shot at a playoff spot, they need to use it more in their offense.
Next week the Pats take on Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. Murray has developed into an absolute stud this season, and if the limited Texans offense was causing the secondary trouble it will be fascinating to see what damage DeAndre Hopkins can do to us. It will be a test of the secondary to see if they can keep the team in the game, but don’t count on it. It feels like another do or die situation to keep the Patriots small playoff hopes alive, but the prospects are certainly not looking good.