Deshaun Watson

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) is lifted by teammate Nick Martin (66) as they celebrate a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half Sunday in Houston.

The New England Patriots are undefeated. There is no question about that thanks to an easy schedule and top-ranked defense.

But other than that, there are lots of unanswered questions about where this season is going over the next few weeks and months.

Here are 10 questions worth watching be answered as the season is nearly one-third over:

1. What are Texans?

We may get an answer to that one very soon, as in around 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Texans are 3-2, with what looks like a good coaching staff and good personnel at key areas, yet we are waiting for the Super Bowl run. They travel to Kansas City, which will be hot after its disappointing loss to the Colts on Sunday night. If head coach Bill O'Brien can help guide his squad to a "W" against the "No. 2" team in the AFC, we will probably look at the Texans differently. Otherwise, no change.

2. Is Reich good?

You would have to look far and wide for anyone associated with the NFL to say a bad word about Frank Reich. But can he coach? It's early, five games into 2019, but it appears he can at a decent level. Most of the teams that lost their starting QB (injury or retirement) are a mess outside of the Colts and Saints. He was the right-hand man in Philadelphia when the Eagles beat the Pats in the Super Bowl in 2017. So he probably isn't afraid of the Pats. The problem is getting to the Patriots in January. At 3-2, with low expectations following Andrew Luck's retirement, he is an early Coach of the Year favorite.

3. Saints schedule a help?

The New Orleans Saints haven't lost a thing since Drew Brees injured his thumb against the Rams. Backup Teddy Bridgewater was paid $8 million for a reason. The Saints have shown signs of morphing into the 2018 Patriots, which were based on balance on offense and a good defense. Best news of all, though, is their schedule. The Saints, 4-1, should be favored in every game they play the rest of the season, which bodes well for Brees' return.

4. Pats chasing undefeated season?

Like the Saints, the Patriots, 5-0 heading into Thursday night's game against the Giants, will probably be favored in the remaining 11 games. That was a goal for the Pats and coach Bill Belichick in 2007 after the Belichick fine ($1 million) for "Spygate." The Patriots were on a mission. But the coach admitted on the post-2018 video -- 3 Games to Glory, IV -- that it probably would've been better if the team had lost. Winning Super Bowls supercedes the attempt for a perfect record. The pressure and energy exerted is not worth it.

5. Packers for real?

Well, that might be up to the quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. If he can accept a "lesser" role on the stats sheet for more wins. So far, well, so good. He is ranked 23rd among starters in QB rating at 93.4 with "only" six TD passes. Is that bad? Well, Brady is ranked 12th at 99.4. It appears Rodgers is not all-in just yet, but if he learns any from following Brady's career, winning supercedes every day of the week and twice on Sundays. The Packers defense is very good, and they can run the ball, two new developments under coach Matt LaFleur.

6. Will Bills stay on Pats tail?

This really is not a question. It's a fact right now. The Bills showed a lot of moxie Sunday going to Tennessee and controlling the game with their defense before taking the win on the road, 14-7. It was a huge bounce back game from the disappointing four-turnover loss to the Patriots, 16-10, in front of the Bills Mafia. Their defense is not good, it's very good. But it might have to be great to truly threaten the Patriots, who are a game ahead in the AFC East. The Jets and Dolphins are finished. Should be four easy wins for the Bills and get them to double figures and another playoff return (last went after the 2017 season). If Josh Allen improves, and that's a big if, they will keep the Pats on their AFC East toes through December.

7. Belichick a QB Whisperer?

Laugh. Go ahead. Guess who drafted Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett? The Belichick Personnel Dept. at 1 Patriot Place, Foxborough, Mass. And those three are now starting quarterbacks, making up about 10 percent of the starting QBs with a combined record of 12-2. While Brady and Jimmy G are the only undefeated starting QBs, Brissett has the most impressive win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City on prime time. That's a tough position to draft, particularly at the "franchise" level. But hitting on three guys is a big deal.

8. McCaffrey for MVP?

There is still a lot of football to play, but no player on offense has had more of an impact than Carolina's Christian McCaffrey. He leads the NFL in rushing yards (587), total yards (866) and is second in TDs (7). He has been a consistent performer since he was drafted eighth overall by the Panthers in 2017. His numbers have improved each year, including this one, which is appreciated by the voters. The win-loss record could be a deterrent, as well as Patrick Mahomes' talents, but he's in the discussion. He has added about 15 pounds this offseason, which allows him to be a big contributor on every down.

9. Tomlin on hotseat?

We know the Steelers change coaches about as often as Haley's Comet comes around. But it doesn't look great right now for Mike Tomlin. While the QB issues are real, it's the other aspects of the team, defense and special teams, that are disconcerting. The Steelers, for all intents and purposes, don't have an identity. They don't do anything well. Their offensive and defensive lines were rated in the top five coming into the season. But nothing is coming easy for the 1-4 Steelers. He wouldn't be removed during the season because that's not the way the Steelers operate. But is a 6-10 or 7-9 acceptable? Is a defense ranking 24th in yards allowed or 16th in points allowed acceptable? Is there a plan to fix this?

10. Worst in the NFL?

It's close between the Dolphins, Redskins and Bengals. The Bengals are 0-5, but three of those losses were by four points or less. The Redskins lost their opener to the Eagles, 32-27, but it's gotten progressively worse each week with losses by 10, 16, 21 and 26. The Dolphins, despite having played one fewer game, probably take the cake of a sorry lot, having scored only 26 points in four games (6.5 per game) while allowing an astounding 163 points (40.1 per). But we may have some type of answer when the Redskins travel to Miami on Sunday. Now that will be interesting.

Bill Burt is executive sports editor for the Eagle-Tribune. You can email him at You can follow him on Twitter at @burttalkssports.

Recommended for you