The New England Patriots are now the second best team in the NFL, only behind the Arizona Cardinals. Things were not always looking this bright for the Patriots.
Remember when the Patriots got demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs, were 2-2, and some reporters were asking if there was a quarterback controversy in New England? Well, those days are over and the Patriots are now back to the playoff-bound, super bowl contenders they were predicted to be.
There are many reasons for the Patriots’ recent successes. The receiving core has gone from a complete joke to one of the elite groups in the NFL. This is thanks to a healthy Rob Gronkowski as well as a rising Brandon LaFell. The ex-Panthers receiver has become the Patriots’ wide receiver one and has lead them in receiving in two games this season. That may not sound like a lot but don’t forget that he has to compete with the greatest tight end in the league.
Another reason for the Patriots current progress is the offensive line’s major improvement since week four. Since then, Tom Brady has only been sacked five times, compared to the first four games where Brady was sacked nine times. Whatever Dave DeGuglielmo, the offensive line coach, did after week four has worked tremendously. Brady has had more time to throw and he’s been more successful because of that.
Offense is not the only key to the Patriots’ recent wining streak, the defense has been playing remarkably over the past few games as well. The Patriots have been playing lockdown defense for a while now, and it was most evident when the Patriots took on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. They held that high powered offense of the Broncos to only 21 points, and the cornerbacks shut down Manning whenever it looked like he would come up with a big play.
There are still some problems with the Patriots, like there are with every team. The one flaw New England has right now is its running game. After Stevan Ridley’s injury, the Patriots have been unable to run the ball, in fact, Ridley still leads the team in rushing yards even though he has been hurt for three games. This is the only problem the Patriots have right now, and hopefully Belichick can find a way to solve it heading into the bye week.
Nov 24, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) makes a fist pump after a pass against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports