By Danny Cox
In the first half of last week’s season opener, the New England Patriots looked sharp, crisp and very much like themselves for the most part. They didn’t come out of the gate on fire, but they looked really good until a couple of penalties took scores off the board, and a fourth down stand by the Chiefs took the wind out of their sails.
Looking at the second half, they were overly flat and came out with less fire than they had at the start of the game. The Chiefs scored the final 21 points of the game as they routed the defending Super Bowl champions and left the Patriots in a hole to start the 2017 NFL regular season.
Injuries already becoming a problem early in the practice week
Before the season even began, the Patriots were plagued by injuries that had them wondering how to fill certain positions with quality players. Now, they are one game into the regular season and injuries are becoming an even bigger problem, as a couple of players are already in jeopardy of missing Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
Despite all of that, head coach Bill Belichick doesn’t seem overly concerned.
“There’s some element of that every week in the National Football League,” he said. “Every team is dealing with something and some circumstances and some unique situations about the game. We have ours and everybody else has theirs. I’ve seen weeks a lot worse than this one, to be honest with you. We’ll work our way through it and we’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower is suffering from a knee injury that has already caused him to sit out of practice, and if he’s not ready to go, a few others are prepared to step in. Cassius Marsh, David Harris, and Deatrich Wise Jr. will all see more playing time against New Orleans.
On offense, wide receiver Danny Amendola has been dealing with a head injury that may force him to the bench this week. If he’s out, that will leave Tom Brady with just three healthy receivers in Chris Hogan, newly acquired Phillip Dorsett, and former Saints wide out Brandin Cooks.
A 16-year streak is in jeopardy in New Orleans this weekend
Even with all of the injuries that need to be worked around, the Patriots have some other issues that need to be resolved before facing off against the Saints. They are currently 0-1 and if they were to lose on Sunday, they would fall to 0-2 for the first time since 2001. That feat is currently the second best streak of its kind as the Denver Broncos have been staying away from 0-2 since 1999.
Drew Brees and the Saints are also sitting at 0-1 after losing their opener to the Minnesota Vikings in what could only be seen as a disappointment for fans in the Big Easy. Nothing seemed to click for the Saints as their usually explosive offense was lackluster and the promising defense couldn’t come close to stopping Sam Bradford.
Now, Sean Payton has his team fired up and ready to put their opening loss behind them. If Coach Belichick isn’t careful, he may see his team in a position they aren’t used to being in, and it could be difficult to climb out of that cellar.