It's Now Or Never For The Patriots' Offense

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Here we are again.  It's almost Thanksgiving, and the New England Patriots sit at 9-1, and atop the AFC standings.  Yawn.  While the Patriots are in the same spot they tend to be in this time of year, it hasn't been in the manner we've grown accustomed to seeing.

Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe
Normally, Tom Brady and a high-powered offense are leading the way.  Sure, they may have some occasional hiccups in the road, but at the end of the season, they always seem to be among the top offenses in the league.  The Patriots haven't finished outside of the top 10 in total offense since 2006, when they finished 11th.

Even last year's offense - despite scoring just 10 points in games against Detroit, Tennessee and Pittsburgh - finished fifth in total offense.  Back-to-back losses in Miami and Pittsburgh late in the season were supposed to signal the end.  They were finally passing the torch.  Five wins later they were hoisting the franchise's sixth Lombardi trophy.  It feels like we're reaching that same point this season.
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That's why, despite all of the offensive struggles this year, I've held out hope.  The Patriots are smack dab in the middle in total offense this year, 16th out of 32.  The offensive line is the biggest issue, but it's not the only one.  They're getting little to no production from their tight ends.  They can't finish drives in the end zone.  They can't gain more than three yards on the ground.

Heck, even Tom Brady isn't playing like, well, Tom Brady.  I mean, he is 42.  He hasn't been sharp, but I'm not throwing him off the cliff just yet.  I've been standing my ground, believing that if and when Isaiah Wynn returns, things will change.  Well, that time has come.

With Wynn expected to return this Sunday, the Patriots offense will finally have something other than a turnstile at left tackle.  It couldn't come at a better time, and against a better opponent.  The Dallas Cowboys come into Sunday with the seventh best pass defense in the league.  It doesn't really matter where their rush defense ranks, because the Patriots haven't shown any ability to run on anybody really.

Dallas' strength is in its front seven. They are middle of the pack in terms of sack numbers, but have a very potent pass rush led by Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence. You can bet that Michael Bennett is going to have a little extra juice for this game as well. Leighton Vander Esch will miss Sunday's game, but Jaylon Smith won't. Between him and the front line, the Patriots offensive line will have their hands full.

All season long, as this team has gone through its ups and downs, we've been waiting for the return of two players from IR: Wynn and N'Keal Harry.  Harry made his much anticipated debut last week.  It wasn't spectacular, as they eased him into things.  He played 32 of 74 snaps, catching three of four targets for 18 yards and one first down.  It was good to finally see him out there, though.

Now with Wynn returning, it looked like we were finally going to see the offense at full strength.  Except now it looks like Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett may miss Sunday's game, or at the very least one of them will.  However, if the offensive line play improves significantly, I'm not sure that matters all too much.

Behind strong offensive line play, we've seen Brady succeed with less talented receivers.  He made the AFC Championship game with the likes of Doug Gabriel and Reche Caldwell.  He made another with Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins.  If he has enough time to throw, he can get guys open.

A lot of blame has been placed on Marshall Newhouse and his struggles.  That goes away this Sunday.  The play of the offense needs to improve, and it needs to start against Dallas.



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Boston Sports Syndicate: It's Now Or Never For The Patriots' Offense
It's Now Or Never For The Patriots' Offense
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