Where the Patriots Stand in the Bizarre-o Rankings of the 2012 NFL Season
The Patriots are now 3-3 – in a four-way tie with the rest of the AFC East – after losing to the Seattle Seahawks on the road on Sunday. They went up 23-10 with 9:21 left in the fourth quarter, only to let Russell Wilson score two quick unanswered touchdowns and lose the game 24-23.
New England started the game off badly and ended it badly. There were massive issues on defense in their secondary, and the team never really developed the offensive rhythm they needed to close the game out and put it away; despite being given plenty of opportunities to do so.
Tom Brady looked unsure, shaken up, frustrated and downright inaccurate at times. He threw for nearly 400 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions and let major opportunities to put the ball in the end zone slip by. When it became clear that Stevan Ridley and the rest of the running back core was being shut down by the Seahawk’s defense, the Patriots seemed to turn back to the pass frantically rather than confidently.
Meanwhile, Wilson had by far his best game of the season, and the best game that any QB has had against the Patriots this year. Wilson finished the game with an astounding passer rating of 133.7, completeing 16 of 27 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch was being shut down by the Pats defense, but Wilson was far from timid after seeing how badly he could tear up the middle of the field against the Patriots’ secondary.
Whatever confidence the Patriots had in the fact that they could abuse the Seahawks limited passing attack was misguided and led to a complete breakdown in their game plan. The Patriots lost that game because they were unprepared, and that is something that is concerning; something that is a blatant reminder of the youth and inexperience of the squad that Bill Belichick rolled out onto CenturyLink field.
The lone bright spot on offense was once again Wes Welker, who caught 10 balls for 138 yards and a touchdown. If Welker’s effort and efficiency on the field had been matched by even one other player on their offense, the Patriots would have won that game. It is very easy to see after a game like that why Brady values Welker above anyone else on that offense; and anyone who has anything to say about any attitude issues he may have off the field with Belichick or anyone else only has to look at his production in wins and in losses to see a guy that is easily the most valuable player in New England right now.
On defense, rookie Chandler Jones shined like the young star that he is emerging to be. Jones sacked Wilson twice and hit him three times, a feat that is not easy against the type of athletic and mobile quarterback that he is. One of those times he stripped him of the ball to force a fumble that the Patriots recovered.
Despite these individual efforts, they could only do so much for their respective units that were bumbling and inept more often than they were successful.
So what now?
Coming into this game, the Pats had won two in a row and established themselves as a force in many ways on both sides of the ball. They had inarguably the most well-rounded and consistent offense in the league, and were making the best of a shaky lineup in their secondary by being dominant up front, pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run.
Today, all of these things seem to have flip-flopped back into mix of the bizarre 2012 NFL season, a season where predictability has left the building and does not seem to have a return date in sight.
In light of the frustration and confusion that many Patriots fans are feeling today, She’s Game Sports is shaking up the NFL rankings and offering up a new way to categorize this crazy season thus far.
Here are the 2012 SGS Rankings as of Week 6:
Teams that seemed like practical locks for a championship game, only to fall on their faces to the point that it makes you second guess what you have been thinking: Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers
Elite teams that have been underachieving and are trying to remain relevant with isolated incredible performances to standout amid the average and subpar ones that have left them at the middle of the pack: Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots
Teams that according to the standings are having a pretty good season so far, but the eye test is making us all question whether they are for real because they are bending so far to win that it’s tough to tell if and when they will break: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, San Diego Chargers
Teams that are completely middle of the pack, and therefore will probably be in the mix for the postseason for most of the year: New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos
Teams that everyone thought would be bad, and now they are not looking bad and are even holding their own in the standings and so we’re still confused why any of them are equal to or above .500: Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams
Teams that are who we thought they were, which is bad: Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns
Teams that have disappointed us because they have seriously talented players and no excuse not to be contenders, but for some reason continue to fall apart at the seams: Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys
Teams that are definitely going to be in the playoffs this year because they are just really good and are clearly playing at a higher level than everyone else right now: Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants
So, what are the chances that the Falcons and Giants join the first category on this list by week 7? At this rate, nothing would be a surprise.