Cause for Concern?
Look, a win's a win. I understand that more than anyone. I don't care how the Patriots win, or how ugly it looks as long as they get the job done. With that said, I've never felt less confident being a number 1 seed with a first round bye. Dating back to the MNF game against the Chiefs, the Patriots have managed to win games while taking entire quarters off...11/21 vs. Kansas City: didn't score until 4 minutes left in the second quarter, with the Patriot offense being out-gained by the Tyler Palko led Chiefs.
11/27 vs. Philadelphia: Defense inconsistencies plague the team in the first 5 minutes of the game as they allow 10 points on their first two possessions.
12/4 vs. Indianapolis: Defense completely shuts it down in the 4th quarter, allowing 21 unanswered points as the Orlovsky led Colts were an onside kick away from a chance to win the game.
12/11 vs. Washington: Offense played pretty consistently throughout, however, the defense was terrible for the first two quarters before stabilizing and shutting down the 'skins in the second half.
12/18 vs. Denver: Defense lets up over 100+ rushing yards in the first quarter, while the offense struggles to move the ball.
12/ 24 vs. Miami: Today, Brady and the offense were horrible in the first half, while the defense was equally as poor in the first two quarters, heading into halftime with a 17-0 deficit.
I understand and value the fact that this is the NFL and there are absolutely no "cupcake" games. However, I cant remember the last time the Patriots have won all four quarters of a football game, or simply (as referenced in the 4th quarter of the Colts game) avoided a quarter where they simply lost focus or motivation. These types of quarter long lapses might cut it against mid-level competition, but what worries me is facing the Steelers or Ravens who don't have vulnerable defenses and are able to protect an early lead. One week it's offensive lapses, the next week it's defensive. We've all seen how good both elements of this team can be when they're working at a high level (2nd quarter vs the Broncos for example). I want to see it for four full quarters before I can rest easy on a potential Super Bowl run.