On paper, the New England Patriots don't look like the most dominant team in football, they look like shootout specialists. Their defense gives up almost 400 yards per game, 4.3 yards per carry and they have serious trouble getting to the quarterback.
The stats lie.
The reality is that the Patriots offense is so good they force the opposing team to increase the pace of the game. This results in plenty of yardage gains, and while the front seven has failed to get to the QB the Pats have the second most interceptions in the NFL with 20—muting drives with turnovers, not just punts.
Coming off a short week and facing Chicago's passing attack, NE's defense faced questions about how it would hold up. They didn't hold the Bears to three points like last week against, but seven points ain't so bad. Riding the "MNF" high and taking advantage of the snowy conditions, the Patriots had two sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Gary Guyton was the star of NE's defensive attack with one of the interceptions and scoring a defensive TD on one of the fumble recoveries. Far from a one-man show, the Pats have been getting great play from Brandon Meriweather, Jerod Mayo, Pat Chung, Vince Wilfork, and rookies Brandon Spikes and Devin McCourty.
It doesn't look like the group will go down as a great all-time defense, but they're more than good enough for Tom Brady to win a Super Bowl with them.
Brady is the front-runner for the MVP. He has a QB Rating of 109.5, derived from his 27-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio and 66.8 percent completion percentage.
New England is the NFL's top scoring team. They are averaging five fewer points per game than in 2007, but there is a welcomed balance on offense. The integration of rookie tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski has been masterful. The Pats thunder and lightning combo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead is the best rushing attack since Corey Dillon.
Wes Welker is still doing what Wes Welker does, but after trading away Randy Moss, there was some question about how effective he would be. Surprisingly, the formula of Deion Branch and Brandon Tate has equated Moss production, keeping the field open for everything underneath.
Back to Brady and his MVP quest. I've never seen the Super Bowl winner have more fun on the field than this season.
Last year Brady looked very upset. When things weren't going right, he seemed to put too much pressure on himself. This year Brady has a new fire. With the eye of the tiger, he is bringing his teammates up to his level, and there isn't a more confident team hitting the gridiron these days.
The Atlanta Falcons are having a great season and a 21-point win over Carolina shouldn't be taken as a grain of salt. Atlanta is the best team in the NFC, but the caliber of teams New England has beat on their five-game win-streak makes them the NFL's team to beat.
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