The Magpies, who finished last season on a positive note, qualifying for the Champions League, have endured a tough start to the season this year.
At the end of four league games, Eddie Howe’s side find themselves 14th in the league table having lost their last three games.
Expectations are high at St James’ Park after the top four finish and another summer of significant spending to strengthen Howe’s squad.
Keys though thinks that if the Newcastle players are not playing at near to their very best every week there is a solid case to say they are average.
“Newcastle is an interesting one. It’s three straight defeats now. It was 23 games before they lost three last season. So what’s happened?” Keys wrote on his blog.
“I said at the start of the season that I fancied them for the top six.
“I still do, but it struck me watching them at Brighton that if they’re not all at it – all of them nine out of ten every week, then perhaps they’re only average after all.”
And stressing the importance of Newcastle continuing to make progress, Keys added: “This is a big season for Eddie Howe.”
Newcastle United’s next match following the international break will be against Brentford at St James’ Park, before they then start their Champions League campaign.