The New England Patriots stink. They were beaten by a clearly superior Buffalo Bills team yesterday to fall to 2-5 on the season. For the first time in forever, the annual champagne reserved for clinching the AFC East will remain on ice until it melts in spring. Rex Ryan gave voice to this obvious reality on Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin this morning.
The Foxborough party is not ending. It's ended.
The Patriots are 3.5 games behind the Bills in the AFC East. They are 2 games behind the Miami Dolphins. Cam Newton has looked more like a rec league Clark Kent than an otherworldly Superman. A once potent offense has posted 10, 12, 6, and 21 points in each of the past four contests. Any magic factor has been eliminated as Bill Belichick has been more Gob Bluth than David Copperfield.
On paper, this should all be cause for celebration. For amusement that finally, after all these years, some small drop of Schadenfreude has found its way to Robert Kraft's gold-plated doorstep. And yet, it's all overwhelmingly unsatisfying.
New England is dying a public death without so much a whimper. But there's no joy in Mudville. Why? Well, don't discount the pandemic, looming election, and general vibe of nervousness and despair. Those are very real factors!
But the real thing, the real sticking point in making us all pull out Nelson's beloved HA-HA is that the real villain isn't there. He's excelling in Tampa.
Whether Tom Brady or Belichick is more responsible for the Pats' dynasty will take some more time to adjudicate, but it's become abundantly clear that it was the All-American Quarterback With Perfect Looks and Lots of Money that we most enjoyed rooting against. Even more so than the fans in sports media with popular podcasts and websites.
Something about seeing this New England team, with this roster, in this year ... just doesn't feel like a payoff. Expectations vs. Reality remains tough to forecast.