Week 11 of the NFL is in the books and the vast majority of power rankings and Super Bowl odds are in agreement that the New England Patriots are the favorites. Yet, lost in all team's greatness, is how below-average the team is this season at a key position: quarterback.
If the Patriots plan on winning yet another Super Bowl, they are going to have to do so in spite of Tom Brady. Here is how Brady currently ranks this season:
Completion percentage: 19th
Passing touchdowns: 17th
Passer rating: 20th
Yards gained per pass attempt: 26th
Touchdown percentage: 26th
In several of these categories, Brady ranks behind quarterbacks such as Case Keenum, Gardner Minshew, Joe Flacco, and Jameis Winston. Not exactly the class many thought he would be in.
His lackluster season has mostly gone unnoticed due to the excellence of the Patriots defense, Josh McDaniels' innovative play-calling, and Bill Belichick having no equals. And all of that will be enough to defeat most of the teams standing in the way of a seventh Super Bowl. But with Brady's current play, it won't be enough to get past all of them.
The Patriots have had a breeze of a schedule, but the three times they've played teams worth watching, the dominance was absent. They beat the Bill and Eagles by six and seven, respectively. Against the Ravens, they were outplayed from kickoff and Lamar Jackson was clearly the best quarterback on the field.
The Ravens now hold the tie-breaker over the Patriots, and are only one game behind record-wise. Thus, they are in a position to get the likely AFC Championship matchup in Baltimore. New England gets the defensive advantage; however, that gap is much narrower than the one between Brady and Jackson. The Patriots cannot win this game unless Brady turns back the clock at least two years. And he will need to do that for more than just one game, because this version of Tom Brady isn't close to enough to defeat what is brewing in the NFC.
The Patriots' struggling passing offense would be put on blast against the 49ers defense. Brady is playing several notches too low to go head-to-head with Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, or Drew Brees. And the possibility of going up against Dak Prescott or Kirk Cousins -- both playing at an MVP level -- is certainly in play.
History has proven that doubting Tom Brady is a route to humiliation. It's different this time, though. This is not the same Brady and, quite frankly, even much of a resemblance of his former self.