New England has been first, third, and fourth in the NFL in red-zone efficiency over the last three seasons, and in the middle of the pack in red-zone defense during that time, though the Patriots have struggled defensively in other areas.
But this year, though it’s early, the Patriots find themselves in unfamiliar territory when it comes to their performance in the red zone.
Heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Buccaneers, the offense has scored just two touchdowns in eight red-zone opportunities, which ranks 31st in the league (they also have four field goals).
New England is tied for 26th in red-zone defense, allowing the Bills and Jets three touchdowns in a combined four opportunities (plus one field goal). Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.