Patriots Nation is bracing for the AFC Divisional Round Game against the Chiefs on Saturday and many fans are expecting Julian Edelman to be the savior for the Patriots. The Patriots ended the season playing very poorly as they lost four out of their last six games for the first time since 2002. The injuries that piled up over the course of the season paid a toll on the team and it got to a point where they were just a different team than what we’re used to.
The Patriots are normally a team that plays their best football in late November and December. This year was much different. The defense has been solid despite injuries to key players such as Jamie Collins and Dont’a’ Hightower. However, the offense has been a mess. The offensive line has been so bad that the Patriots have become reluctant to run their normal offense. It was not an all out effort based on the play calling.
The Patriots are playing a very solid team in the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday. The Chiefs have won eleven games in a row. In those eleven games, their defense is allowing an average of eleven points per game. This is a ridiculous number in today’s NFL. To put that number in perspective, Seattle led the NFL this year in defensive points per game at 17.3. That’s a six point difference from what the Chiefs have done in the past eleven weeks.
Anyways, most Patriots fans are cautiously optimistic about the game on Saturday. The general consensus is that the Chiefs are going to give the Patriots a game, but the Pats will prevail. There’s good reason to think the Patriots will win this game. They’re at home. They are more playoff tested than the Chiefs. They are very well coached. However, the reason that seems to be the prevailing one is very flawed. Julian Edelman is back. Is his potential impact being overrated?
Julian Edelman is a very good player when he’s healthy. He’s probably the best slot receiver in the NFL. He certainly is a difference maker when he’s 100%. However, why is there this assumption that Edelman is going to come out in his first game back and play like he did mid-season? For starters, he hasn’t played in an NFL game since November. He hasn’t been hit in over a month. There’s not going to be any rust? Also, he’s coming off of an injury that can be very difficult to come back from. Did anyone watch Dez Bryant when he came back this year? He was not the same guy and his foot injury was similar to Edelman’s. Bryant wasn’t even a focal point in the Cowboys offense. This is a guy that scored 16 touchdowns last year. What makes Edelman different? If anything, Edelman could be even more impacted than Bryant considering that his whole game is based on quick cuts and separation.
The Patriots are going to have to answer a lot of questions on Saturday and most of them are questions that Julian Edelman isn’t going to be able to answer the bell on.
What is going to be changed to improve the offensive line play?
Is Tom Brady’s high ankle sprain going to limit him from being able to move in the pocket when he gets pressured?
Is Rob Gronkowski going to be the Gronk of old or the guy we saw in December?
Julien Edelman may impact Gronk’s play if he’s healthy, but he’s surely not going to help the offensive line and Brady’s ankle.
The Patriots may very well defeat the Chiefs on Saturday. The have a lot of factors in their favor and the reality is that their defense may actually now be the strength of their team. The D could carry them just like the Chiefs D has carried their team. However, if you think that a slot receiver who hasn’t played in nearly two months is suddenly going to come back and be the savior to the Patriots problems, you may end up being very disappointed.