The New England Patriots have had one of the best offenses in the league for several years now.
Led by MVP quarterback Tom Brady, the Pats have relied on spreading the field and using their quarterback's excellent play recognition skills to tear defenses apart. Brady is one of the best in the league at analyzing a defense prior to the snap and making the necessary adjustments to ensure the play is successful.
Their biggest strength on offense, other than the fact they have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, has been their timing and precision.
The majority of their wide receivers are undersized guys who rely on quick cuts and well-run routes to move the ball down the field.
However, what is becoming more and more apparent is that aggressive pass coverage is the key to stopping the Patriots.
In Week 8, we saw the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary play a man press coverage on New England. This turned into the Patriots' lowest scoring performance of the season.
Brady's performance wasn't necessarily poor, but it was clear that he was frustrated. The natural rhythm that the Patriots offense usually has was completely disrupted by the press coverage.
If the Steelers have laid down the blueprint for stopping New England's offense, the only challenge for opposing teams is to have the correct personnel to do so.
This Sunday, the Patriots will be taking on their division rival New York Jets. The Jets certainly have a strong enough secondary to challenge the Patriots receivers up and down the field. However, the key to the Patriots' success in the last game was New England's ability to run the ball.
The key matchup for the Jets will be Wes Welker.
Welker is the perfect build for a wide receiver in the Patriots system. It has been shown that if you can disrupt the timing between Brady and Welker, the entire offense can be thrown off.
We've seen the Jets do it before in last year's playoff game.
While some may turn to their Week 5 matchup as evidence of the Patriots having the upper hand, we have continuously seen that previous games in this rivalry cannot be used to make predictions going forward.
New England's offense has been getting progressively worse as the season goes on. If they can't find a way to recapture that early-season success, Sunday night's game against the Jets could be a rough night for Patriots fans.
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