Punch Drunk Wonderland

Are the Patriots Still the AFC Favorite for Super Bowl 50?

One loss typically doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of a 16 game NFL season, and that’s especially the case when that one loss follows 10 consecutive wins to start the season. However, the 10-1 New England Patriots’ loss to Denver was more than just a lost game. It was a statement to how beat up this team has been and continues to be. The NFL is a rough place, and enduring a full season unscathed is near impossible.

In Week 12 New England lost Rob Gronkowski to a knee injury that will cause him to miss at least one game, and Dont’a Hightower to sprained MCL that could result in missed time or will at least potentially slow the linebacker down a bit. But, that was just last week. The injuries have piled up despite the team’s continued success this season. Julian Edelman suffered a knee injury that will result in significant time lost, rising star running back Dion Lewis has been lost for the season with a knee injury, left tackle Nate Solder out for the season, starting center Bryan Stork, LaFell, Amendola, Dobson, linebacker Jamie Collins and more have all missed games due to injury. The hits keep coming.

bill-belichick-hoodie-01But, until Week 12 the team had continued winning. That’s a testament to their coaching and their quarterback in many respects. Now going forward we are in December and this is the time of year when everyone is banged up, and the contenders rise to the top. Are the Patriots still the AFC favorite to reach the Super Bowl? Can that be possible given their rash of injuries and misfortune? I’m no guru offering expert sports betting picks, but I find it hard to believe this team’s enlightened season can continue to the promised land.

Through their first seven games of 2015 the Patriots offense has averaged 3.85 touchdowns per game. Once the injuries to Lewis and Edelman came around they’ve since averaged 2.75 touchdowns per game. That means a drop of over 6 points per game and that is very significant. That doesn’t even factor in losses and injuries on the defensive side of the ball, and that impact. They were still winning, but production was dropping. It only stands to get worse if Gronkowski has to miss any significant time. They’re going to need him on the field as much as possible.

New England has been dominant this season, but I don’t think it can last. They’re too depleted. Oddly, their Vegas futures odds hasn’t changed all that much. But, I think there has to be movement. If this team does pull this season out and get to the Super Bowl, it will be an unprecedented feat of coaching and quarterback play….then again, they do have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. I guess anything is possible.


K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...