The Patriots started the year missing three starting O-linemen (Connolly retired, Wendell went on injured reserve and Stork would miss 6 games with “concussion symptoms”). About the time Stork got back, Solder went on IR for the rest of the year. Later All-Pro Vollmer would be added to the injury list meaning all 5 starting linemen would miss significant time. No problem for the first ten games because Brady was getting rid of the ball at a blistering rate of 2.18 seconds to Edelman, Lewis, Gronk and Amendola. Then they lost Lewis, then Edelman. Finally the offense started to sag. They tried to go to Brandon Lefell (who missed the first six games) but that didn’t work. They survived by keeping Gronk in to block a lot and focusing on Amendola, then Amendola went down. Hmmm, maybe we should run, down goes Blount. Finally the offense was at a stand still, especially after losing Gronk for a game. Gronk came back but if you didn’t notice he was running hurt you were not paying attention.
The plan then became rely on the defense and just heal up. Oh yeah, the defense. The defense was playing great….even when Jamie Collins contracted the plague. Then Hightower went in and out of the lineup with “a knee”. Backup Freeney went out with “a hand”. McCourty went out with an ankle sprain. There were many others but hey, it’s the NFL, people get hurt. Ask the Steelers, Broncos, Chiefs, Cardinals, Packers, or Seahawks. Other than the Steelers I can’t think of another of these teams that have had the number of key people hurt as the Patriots.
Finally, in week 17, Brady had his ankle rolled by 300+ pound Suh and the season looked over. Fortunately Brady appears to be ok.
Now the Patriots limp into the playoffs against a KC team that has their own injury problems. The fact that the Patriots are in the final eight with all these injuries is both expected and amazing. I think the Patriots pull out a victory over the Chiefs in an ugly rock fight. We will have to check the remaining teams’ injury reports to pick a winner the following week.