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Felger & Mazz: Offensive Line Could Be Patriots Fatal Flaw

BOSTON (CBS) - The New England Patriots improved to 12-3 on Sunday after narrowly defeating the division rival New York Jets 17-16, in a contest -- despite historical precedent -- many felt would not be close.

Rex Ryan's Jets exposed and revealed a lot of warts on the Patriots, particularly problems on the offensive line.

Quarterback Tom Brady was hit 11 times, sacked four and was under duress all afternoon. According to Pro Football Focus, Brady has been hit more times (52) than any signal caller in the league this season.

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And while the overall sacks allowed totals are down from last year, the New England offensive line has struggled against premiere defensive fronts, as we saw again yesterday in the Meadowlands.

New England can lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a win next week against Buffalo (or a loss by Denver Monday night in Cincinnati), which is all well and good.

Read: NFL Playoff Picture, Clinching Scenarios & Tiebreakers

But after a sloppy performance like yesterday, you can't help but point out the negatives on the Patriots, which is exactly what 98.5 The Sports Hub's Mike Felger & Tony Massarotti did on Monday to start the show.

"Is the offensive line a fatal flaw [for the Patriots]?" Felger asked to lead the discussion.

"Potentially, sure. Yes, absolutely. With regards to a championship? Yes. No question about it," Mazz responded. "Will they lose to Buffalo next week? Or in the first round of the playoffs? Probably not. But in all likelihood, if you're going to win a championship you're going to have to go up against a team with a defensive line that will slap you around and generate pressure with four guys, i.e. Seattle."

Felger & Mazz wanted to clarify their take after the opening segment, because often times their words get misconstrued.

They're not saying the offensive line will prevent the Patriots from winning a fourth Lombardi, but if they fail to deliver then it'll likely be because of that.

Mike Felger in particular has faith that the Patriots can overcome their offensive line deficiencies, because it's something they've already done this season (see Monday Night Massacre in Kansas City, and how they responded after that).

"Is [the offensive line] a fatal flaw of this team? I would counter, well they've figured it out once already didn't they? Didn't they? They did in October and into November. They put five guys together and they figured it out and played very well up front, so why can't they do it again?" Felger wondered.

For Tony though, it's more of a matchup thing. He can't help but look at a team like Seattle and notice the problems they'll pose -- or even Denver, with Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Terrance Knighton and company.

Clearly, the line's effort against the Jets wasn't good enough.

"The line play sucked yesterday. It's Week 16! It wasn't just mediocre, or okay. It sucked," said Mazz. "They have no depth."

Listen below for the full conversation:



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