DETROIT — We tried to warn you before the game: new Lions coach Matt Patricia had more information on the Patriots than any other departed defensive coordinator. And as a result, we would get an early referendum on this Patriots' team.
No, it wasn't pretty.
Patricia and his coaches performed an autopsy on these Patriots, and they completely disemboweled them in a 26-10 victory. Every weakness and every wart — especially on the defensive side of the ball — we thought was there and might rear its ugly head came under the harsh glare of a nationally televised audience. And it was, in a word, embarrassing. On both sides of the ball.
The defense allowed the Lions' first 100-yard rusher in 70 games (since 2013!) and couldn't get off the field. The Lions' defense — which was without their two best pass rushers (Ziggy Ansah and Kerry Hyder) — made like the Jaguars. They basically took Rob Gronkowski out of the game. And the Patriots were helpless to move the ball without their best weapon.
There were other issues too, and we'll get to those. But we all know what we saw on Sunday night. It was a Patriots performance the likes of which we have not seen very often. New England has now lost two straight. The last four times it has done that, each season ended in disappointing fashion:
In 2015, the Patriots cost themselves home-field advantage with losses to the Jets and Dolphins in the final two weeks, and eventually lost to the AFC championship game to the Broncos in Denver.
In 2012, they lost in Week 2 (Cardinals) and 3 (Ravens). The season ended in home loss in the AFC title game to the Ravens, a contest where the Patriots were dominated. That was the last time the Patriots were below .500 (they're now 1-2) after Week 2
In 2011, the Patriots fell in back-to-back games to the Steelers and Giants in the middle of the season. With one of the least-talented defenses they've ever had, New England lost in the Super Bowl to the Giants.
And in 2009, the Patriots lost to the Saints and Dolphins in Weeks 12 and 13, and then were bounced at home by the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs.
So history tells us it's not good news when New England loses back-to-back games during the season.
But what about this season? Can the Patriots rebound like they always have? How will they make up for their shortcomings? Let's take a look at the top three problem areas and assess how they will mitigate them: