Is this finally it? Is this the decline of the New England Patriots?
Look, this is bound to blow up in our faces like it has in years past, where every non-Patriot fan is bombarded with chants of "we're still here" and then pretend like they were the underdogs all along. But this season, the Patriots offense is simply not as good as it once was.
New England's 28-22 loss to the Houston Texans further exemplified that this offense has no shot of competing against the talented teams in the league, especially once the playoffs hit. Those 22 points were an illusion.
When looking at their current woes, all eyes lock onto 42-year-old quarterback Tom Brady, who's a shell of his former self. And we aren't talking about the Brady from years ago. We're talking about the Brady from last year's Super Bowl run.
Individuals will look at Brady's stats against the Texans and spot 326 yards and three touchdowns, yet those are padded due to his garbage time drive late in the fourth quarter. There were issues of miscommunication and bad blocking on Sunday night. But at times, Brady's age shows on the broadcast feed.
A big part of the Patriots' offensive issues is the lack of production at receiver behind Edelman. The team acquired Mohamed Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons at the trade deadline, and he turned five targets into three receptions for 14 yards. Phillip Dorsett? Two catches for 15 yards on six looks. That's un-Patriot like.
New England's defense single-handedly led them to 10 wins this season, but once they faced talented offenses like the Deshaun Watson's Texans and Lamar Jackson's Baltimore Ravens, they were outmatched. The unit needed the Patriots to score to keep them in the game, but that proved to be more of a chore than anything.
If New England has to face either Watson, Jackson or Patrick Mahomes come playoff time, Bill Belichick is going to have to put forth his best game plan, because this offense no longer has a true No. 1 receiver or Rob Gronkowski to bail them out if they go down early.
After this loss, the Patriots now have to set their focus to Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Unless Belichick or offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels can light a fire under them, the Patriots offense will have a tough time trying to out-score an offense containing Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill.