Don’t look now, but the New England Patriots have rattled off five straight wins and currently own the second-best point differential (+123) of any team in the NFL following their 25-0 shutout of the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday.
Given that Tom Brady is no longer around, folks are going to have reservations about this version of the Patriots.
What’s it going to take for that to change? Squeaking in to the playoffs? Taking back the division crown? Winning a playoff game? Nobody knows, but the goal posts will continue to move until something of note is accomplished.
But you know what? Who cares about the outside noise?
What matters is that this version of the Patriots is a force to be reckoned with; one that has firmly entered the Super Bowl conversation.
Some fans might not want to touch the money, but here are three stats that prove New England deserves such recognition.
These stats prove the Patriots are Super Bowl contenders
3. Running game continues to improve
While Mac Jones is setting a gold standard for first-year quarterbacks, the Patriots’ identity is their defense and playing smash-mouth football.
Speaking strictly in terms of the running game, the emergence of Rhamondre Stevenson over the last two games could give New England one of the best one-two punches at the running back position in the league.
Over the last three games, the Patriots have totaled 469 rushing yards, good for the third-most of any team during that span. It should come as no surprise that stretch of dominance started once Stevenson started getting more involved.
Stevenson and Damien Harris were built for playoff football. Both players relish the opportunity to run between the tackles. In other words, they welcome contact. As the temperature continues to drop as we get into December and January, defenders are going to want no part of tackling the Pats’ RB duo.
As long as the offensive line holds up its end of the bargain, New England has the necessary horses in their backfield to go on a run, no pun intended.