2014 NFL Playoffs: 5 Reasons Why New England Patriots Don’t Have What it Takes
2014 NFL Playoffs: 5 Reasons Why New England Patriots Don't Have What it Takes
It has been a tough year overall for the New England Patriots, but once again they have found a way to make it into the postseason despite their various struggles. Winners of the AFC East, they own the No. 2 seed in the conference and earned themselves a first round bye with a 12-4 record. Tom Brady has been able to lead them to a lot of tough victories in the regular season (particularly against the Denver Broncos), and he’s done so with mostly “spare parts” to work with. Aaron Hernandez is long gone and Rob Gronkowski, his only reliable target on the roster, has been injured for most of the season, making his job even more difficult. Add that with the loss of Wes Welker in free agency, and you’ll find that his performance this season has been nothing short of remarkable. With him at the helm, the Patriots are a top-ten offense, ranking tenth overall in passing yardage and third in points scored. In addition, they have found a way to utilize their running game (ninth overall) despite not having a featured back. Their ringleader, Bill Belichick, is a rightful candidate for coach of the year.
However, this isn’t the regular season anymore. The playoffs are a different animal, and while Brady has plenty of experience in January, he cannot take them to the big game by himself. This year, the Patriots simply do not have what it takes to get to the Super Bowl. Here are 5 reasons why:
The Loss of Rob Gronkowski
Out for the playoffs, the loss Brady's only trustworthy weapon is a huge blow to their offense. Without him, Tom Brady will be forced to rely on a lot of unproven guys such as Kenbrell Thompkins.
The Lack of an Outside receiving threat
No one on the Patriots has been able to fill the void left by Wes Welker. Julian Edelman has been good, but nowhere near the caliber of Welker. Not to mention, they don't really have a deep threat that can take the top off of a defense. That's going to be exposed in the playoffs, and will ultimately be a part of their demise.
While the word "blueprint" gets thrown out a lot in the NFL, I believe there is a legitimate method to stopping the Patriots' offense. Thanks to the injury to Gronk, the only play-maker they have at a skill position is the underrated Shane Vereen, and he will be heavily relied upon in the playoffs to get their offense going. However, teams are certainly going to look at how the Miami Dolphins were able to stop Vereen in Week 15, which ultimately led to a 24-20 victory. In that game, they held Vereen to just 14.5 yards total and zero touchdowns.
Like most seasons, Brady has had to carry the load for the Patriots with little help from their porous defense. They are third worst in the league in rushing yards per game, and 26th overall in total yards allowed. That's not a good sign when you have to face teams such as the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos. Which brings me to my next point....
The Denver Broncos
It's true, the Patriots did beat Denver in the regular season and I give them all the credit in the world for that. But will they really be able to keep up with them a second time around, especially without Gronkowski? I think not. Ultimately this is Denver's year, and I see no one in the AFC, including the Patriots, being able to stop them from reaching the Super Bowl.