This is the most offensively-balanced Patriots team we’ve ever seen.
The team currently ranks first in the NFL averaging just under 440 total yards per game. What really stands out is the Patriots—a team known for their dynamic aerial attack led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady—have the league’s third best rushing attack.
Not since the days of Corey Dillon has the team produced such a productive ground game. Unlike when Dillon erupted for an NFL best 1,635 rushing yards during his first year with the Patriots in 2004, this year’s team contains a seemingly unlimited number of receiving options at their disposal.
Unlike recent years, Brady no longer is forced to carry the offense on his shoulders week after week. Still, the two time league MVP is more than capable of dragging the team to victory, as he did during the Patriots 45 point second half explosion against the Buffalo Bills.
The Patriots appear to have improved themselves in nearly every aspect of the game this season. This is a mightily impressive feat for a team that came within a few minutes of winning last year’s Super Bowl.
The one setback for the team has been their offensive line, which has had trouble—at times—protecting their star quarterback. In the team’s defeat to the Arizona Cardinals especially, they sorely missed retired left tackle Matt Light and holdout guard Brian Waters.
In the Patriots two Super Bowl losses to the New York Giants, their failure to consistently protect Brady was cited as one of the deciding factors. The offensive line has improved each week and is appearing to gel together as a cohesive unit.
Their gradual improvement must continue because keeping Brady upright has to be the team’s primary focus. If Brady goes down, the Patriots season will go down with him.
The Patriots are still a work in progress defensively, but certainly better and more talented than last season. First round draft pick Chandler Jones has already shown that he possesses the potential to become one of the league’s premier pass rushers, and the team’s front seven is among the league’s best.
Though the team has done a phenomenal job stopping the run—with the exception of their loss to the Baltimore Ravens—their pass defense has struggled on many occasions. Cornerback Devin McCourty’s Pro Bowl rookie season seems more and more like a fluke as each game passes, and the entire secondary have shown an inability to prevent big plays.
Despite their weaknesses, it’s hard to argue the Patriots are not among the league’s most talented teams. Their offense has the ability to outscore any opponent and more than make up for any slip ups their defense might hamper them with. Bill Belichick has led far less talented teams deep into the postseason, and he should be able to bring this Patriots team to the promised land.
If the Patriots can improve or even mask the few flaws they possess, they have as good a chance as any at winning this year’s Super Bowl. At season’s end, there’s an excellent chance we’ll see Tom Brady raising his fourth Lombardi trophy.