Patriots Team Headlines: Confusion Over Gronk’s OPI, Pats D Believes It Can Change

By Danny Cox

When a team loses two of its first four games, there are obviously some things that need to be looked at and changes that need to be made. The New England Patriots are in quite the unfamiliar position with a record of 2-2 and heading into a tough contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s still very early in the season and there is plenty of time to turn things around, but they really can’t wait much longer to do it.

Gronk’s offensive pass interference likely should have been a no-call

During Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, Rob Gronkowski caught a pass from Tom Brady for a 10-yard gain, but a penalty flag for offensive pass interference brought it back. The referee stated that Gronk pushed off linebacker Luke Kuechly and the play was called back on a penalty that really isn’t called that often.

Well, that is until this season, where the penalty has been on the rise. Through the first four weeks of the season, there have been 42 offensive pass interference penalties called in the NFL, which is more than each of the last two years. It is actually more than double the amount of OPI calls in all of 2013.

Troy Aikman was calling the Panthers-Patriots game and after Gronk was assessed the penalty, he said, “If you’re going to call that, we’re going to be here all day.” Aikman wasn’t the only person confused by the call on Gronkowski, and it is likely going to become a much bigger issue as the season goes on.

Dont’a Hightower believes the defense can fix the problems

It is obvious that the biggest problem for the Patriots this season is on defense, but linebacker Dont’a Hightower doesn’t feel as if they are a lost cause. He believes that they “absolutely” can pull it together and he’s going to make sure that happens by having everyone simply play better.

“It’s just accountability,” said Hightower. “That’s something that I myself as well as the other 10 guys, 11, 12 guys, whoever’s out there, it’s on them to do. It’s on all of us. We gotta hold each other to a higher standard to that. That starts today. We had a so far productive meeting. We’re about to handle a couple more things. We know where we have to be at and what we gotta do. The time’s now. There’s no more next week or any other (expletive). We gotta get going.”

In four games, the Patriots have given up 128 points with 85 in their two losses. Tampa Bay isn’t an overly high-scoring team, but the Pats’ secondary has been giving up a number of big plays so far this year.

Patriots no longer the overall favorite to win it all

After the two losses, the New England Patriots are no longer the huge favorite to win the Super Bowl this year. As things currently stand, the Patriots are the second favorite at 5-1, according to the Westgate SuperBook’s odds. Sitting in first place would be the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 9-2 favorite to be this year’s champions.

The Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated the Patriots in the season opener, are listed as 7-2 co-favorites with New England by MGM sportsbooks.

From the NFC, most oddsmakers have the Green Bay Packers (6-1) and Atlanta Falcons as the favorites to win it all.

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