The New England Patriots certainly have not looked like the New England Patriots as of late. Despite being double-digit favorites over the Denver Broncos in Week 6, the Patriots fell, 18-12, and then were blown out on their home field by Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers 33-6 this past Sunday. These two losses were the first games in which quarterback Cam Newton returned from the reserve/COVID list, and people are starting to wonder if his recent battle with the coronavirus has led to his poor play.
Newton tested positive for the coronavirus on the same weekend the Patriots were scheduled to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. New England's signal-caller was reportedly asymptomatic, but he certainly doesn't look like the same player he was through the first three weeks of the season. Recently, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked if COVID-19 still affects Newton or if he thinks that it has altered the way he plays. Belichick didn't give any credence to that narrative.
"I don't think so," Belichick responded, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. "We'd list him on the injury report if he was. I don't think he's had any symptoms the whole way."
Newton accounted for six total touchdowns and threw two interceptions through the first three weeks, as the Patriots started the season 2-1. Even the loss they suffered to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 was earned via a goal-line stand -- a game which really could have gone either way. After Newton tested positive, he has scored just one touchdown and thrown five interceptions during the Pats' last two losses. The Patriots are multiple games under .500 for the first time since 2002 and have lost three straight games for the first time since that season.
"No. My goodness. I'm hearing a lot of 'what it could be,'" Newton said on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show." "It's simple. I have to play better."
The 2-4 Patriots are currently sitting in third place in the AFC East, and have a chance this week to get back into the win column against the first-place Buffalo Bills. How Newton performs will definitely be something that's on everyone's mind moving forward.