FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady says he is still having fun playing football, even in the midst of one of the most challenging seasons of his career.
''I love it,'' he said on Friday, though he balked at saying whether he likes it as much as he used to.
The defending Super Bowl champions head into Sunday's game against Cincinnati in a prolonged slump, losing two in a row and three of their last five games. Since the start of Week 9, they are 30th in the NFL with an average of 17.6 points per game; only the Bengals and Jaguars are worse.
Brady said the Patriots (10-3), who can clinch a playoff berth with a win Sunday, are making progress.
''Guys are working really hard and that's been great to see and that's what we've got to keep doing,'' he said. ''Things just don't kind of happen magically, so we're working pretty hard at it.''
It's not uncommon for the Patriots to have struggles during the regular season. They had a similar slump last year in December but went on to win their sixth Super Bowl since 2001.
''Every year, it's a little bit different. The challenges are different,'' Brady said. ''You just can't rely on, `Oh, well. We'll just do exactly what we used to do,' or, `We'll do exactly what we did last week.' You have to kind of reinvent yourself every week. ... It's always a little bit of a challenge, but football season is not supposed to be easy.''
The Patriots lost to the Houston Texans two weeks ago and Kansas City last week, just the ninth time since 2003 that they have lost back-to-back games. They have not lost three straight in that span.
Never in Brady's career has the offense struggled so much. It is 17th this season in third-down conversion percentage (37.4%) and scoring on 48% of the trips inside the 20-yard line, which ranks 27th in the league.
''We've got to maximize our potential, and I don't know what our potential is,'' Brady said. ''If we do it well one time, it's how well can we do it consistently? I think part of it's just consistently we haven't done a great job, and I think that when you're not consistent, it just leads to other issues. Trying to be consistent and dependable is what a great offense is all about, and when you have really great play-making ability, all those things make it very hard to defend.''
New England is one game in front of Buffalo in the AFC East. The Bills come to Gillette Stadium next weekend.
---
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL
Loading...

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Predictions & Picks

Thumbnail Total Climbing for Super Bowl 54 While football fans are still over a week-and-a-half away from Super Bowl 54, oddsmakers are busy adjusting the over/under for the 49ers and Chiefs matchup in Miami....
Thumbnail Chiefs Open as Favorites vs. 49ers With the conference championships now in the rearview mirror, we can concentrate on Super Bowl 54. With the matchup now set between the Chiefs and the 49ers, what did...
Thumbnail NFC Title Game Spread Prediction The NFC Championship Game will take place at 6:40 p.m. ET tonight in Santa Clara as the 49ers host the Packers. Are the Packers the best play as a large road...
Thumbnail Packers vs. 49ers Total Prediction The total for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game has climbed to 46.5 at some books but is back down to 46 as of early afternoon. Will the Packers and 49ers combine to hit...
Thumbnail AFC Title Game Spread Prediction The Titans not only knocked off the Patriots and Ravens the past two weeks, they did so as an underdog in each game. Will the Titans make it three in a row with an...