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New England Patriots in Dangerous Territory in Pro Football Focus Grading

The New England Patriots offense has been so bad through four games, it may very well lead to this being the worst season of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era.

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Advanced statistics are a great way to better understand the NFL and just how good or bad a particular player is. That said, no number on a computer, calculated by someone who's directly involved with a team/player can completely evaluate a player and/or team. However, it can gives us a better idea of just how good they are.

That's the case with Pro Football Focus and potentially the New England Patriots. They've given the 2-2 Patriots a cumulative -49 offensive grade through four games. That's the third-worst grade of any team, behind only the 1-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 0-4 Jacksonville Jaguars.

Earning a negative team grade from PFF is by no means a death knell, but when it's as bad as New England's offensive grade is, there's a good chance that team will struggle mightily.

Since PFF began their grading system in 2007, every team that's been in the bottom three of cumulative offensive grading has finished with an average record of 5-11 and combined mark of 110 - 225 -1 (yes, the tie was Eagles - Bengals in '08), a winning-percentage of 33%.

Prior to 2010, the nine teams that finished in the bottom three (including '08 Bengals) finished with an average record of 4-12, but had a cumulative record of 32-111-1 (winning-percentage of 22%).

Over that past four seasons, teams with dominant defenses were able to overcome their poor offenses. Since 2007, only seven teams have won 7+ games while having a PFF bottom-three offense.

The 7-9 Rams in 2010 ( in a division that the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks won) were the first team to win more than six games while having a bottom-three offense.

The 2010 11-5 Bears were the first playoff team with a bottom-three offense. Though they had a horrendously bad offensive line and WR unit, they had an elite defense, led by Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and Julius Peppers. The 2011 and 2012 Bears also had bottom-three offenses, but won 8+ games.

The 2011 8-8 Broncos (TEBOW TIME) also won on the strength of a dominant defense that carried a woeful offense.

The 2013 8-8 Jets and 8-8 Ravens were the only other teams to win 7+ games with bottom-three offenses.

In other words, New England will need to rely heavily on their defense this year if they are to survive their offensive woes. With guys like Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Darrelle Revis and Chandler Jones, they certainly have the potential to have a defense capable of carrying the offense.

That said, if New England's offense doesn't significantly improve over the course of the season, this could be the worst season of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, who've not lost more than seven games in a season since 2001, and have won 12+ games eight times since 2003.