Punch Drunk Wonderland

Are the Patriots really that good?

I know. It seems a silly question to ask at this point. Regardless of how things look on paper, it seems a team with Tom Brady that’s coached by Bill Belichick just wins. Obviously, you have to give the reigning Super Bowl champs their due, but how good is this team really? Are the 2015 New England Patriots really that good?

Going into their Week 6 matchup versus the Colts, New England has been sporting the top ranked offense in the league in terms of scoring and passing. Their defense is ranked 4th in terms of points allowed. From a fantasy football standpoint, the team has fantasy stat super stars in Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Dion Lewis. Brady is averaging 346 passing yards and 3 touchdowns per game, and 25+ fantasy points per game. Dion Lewis is averaging 45 rushing yards, 60 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, and 13.5 fantasy points per game. And, Gronk is once against leading tight ends in production. He’s averaging 93 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, and 15 fantasy points per game. So, from a statistical standpoint the Patriots offense is really good.

How about their defense? As mentioned above, their ranked 4th in the league in points allowed per game. They’re ranked 12th in total yards allowed. Much has been said about a potential lack of talent in their secondary, but they’ve held up relatively well versus the pass as they rank 11th in passing yards allowed. So, their defense isn’t top notch but it’s certainly good enough to get the job done alongside their highly successful offense.

How did the Colts matchup. Not particularly well. In the Week 6 matchup the first half was close, but errors and historic blunders showed that Indianapolis just couldn’t matchup with the Patriots over the full 60 minutes. Sure, that 4th down call was a bonehead play for the Colts players and a disastrous move for the coaching staff for letting it happen. Regardless, New England put up another solid showing to move to 5-0.

New England Patriots' Dion Lewis (33) plays during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Are they the AFC favorite to reach the Super Bowl? Will they be repeat champs? If I were a betting man, it’s certainly easy to lean that way. They’re certainly the overwhelming favorite for the oddsmakers and professional sports handicapping. Super Bowl 50 futures predictors have the Pats sitting at +350, and they’re being given the best odds in the AFC by far.

But, wait a minute. Let’s look at who they’ve played so far. Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Dallas. Pittsburgh prior to Big Ben going out was a pretty solid team, so we’ll call that win legit. Buffalo and Jacksonville aren’t all that good, and Dallas is a mess. I’m guessing that some of those gawdy numbers from their first four games are largely related to the lower level of competition they’ve faced. They’re good, but let’s get further into the season and further into better competition before we do any anointing. Then again, the rest of the AFC East hasn’t really improved as much as many predicted. They’ll win their division for certain, so we’ll see how things look come playoff time.

Yes. New England is very good through four games this season. But, let us not forget that after four games last season the team had been written off and many were saying the “Brady/Belichick Era” was over. A lot of things can happen in a full NFL season.

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