The Patriots bounced back from their first loss, but they still have issues. The last time we saw them, they were getting bulldozed on a Sunday night two weeks ago in Baltimore. Sunday in Philadelphia, the Patriots ran into a team that plays offense nothing like the Ravens, reasserted themselves as the NFL's best defense and ran their record to 9-1, recovering from their first loss with a 17-10 victory over the Eagles.
It stabilized the Patriots and kept them ahead of the blistering Ravens in the race for the AFC's top seed. But any concerns that sprouted about New England's Super Bowl chances in Baltimore remained. The Patriots' defense may be enough to beat any team, even in the Super Bowl - just see last February. But their offense isn't functioning at an elite level.
The Patriots scored only one touchdown Sunday, and it came from clever coaching. The Patriots came out of the halftime locker room using hyper-fast tempo, catching the Eagles off guard and marching into the red zone. They finished the drive with a sweet trick play: Wide receiver Julian Edelman threw a touchdown pass after lining up in the backfield next to Tom Brady and motioning out.
It would be wrongly dismissive to call them gimmicks - employing those kinds of creative tactics at the right time is one reason the Patriots win. It's still a bad sign that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels think had to rely on them. It means the Patriots know their conventional offense keeps bogging down.
Their offensive line usually improves under position coach Dante Scarnecchia, but they gave Brady no chance for much of Sunday. The unit will receive a major boost Sunday when 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn is eligible to come off injured reserve. Mohamed Sanu was a nice addition, but the tight ends and wide receivers are still a motley group - rookie wideout N'Keal Harry, a first-round pick, could help but didn't do much in his debut.
Nobody should worry about the Patriots, but they are far from invincible. The Ravens proved it two weeks ago, and after a bye, even in victory, the Patriots showed it again.