Diagnosing a Patriots problem

For the Pats to improve, Tom Brady must have more deep threats at his disposal. George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Five weeks into the season, the New England Patriots were 4-1 and had scored 30 or more points in every game. And then things went downhill, quickly. They scored 20 or fewer points in each of their next three games, with their only win coming in a last-second victory against the Dallas Cowboys.

New England followed that with a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers before falling 24-20 at home to the New York Giants on Sunday. A key element has disappeared from the Patriots' offense, and their defense looks incapable of stopping anyone. The Pats find themselves in a three-way tie atop the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, and a playoff spot is far from guaranteed.