As the Patriots head into the bye week at 5-2, my predictions look solid. My guess was the Pats would be 5-3 at the halfway mark. The Pats ended up beating the Ravens and still think they'll beat the Dolphins so I'll end up off by one, but that's a good thing.
With the Pats outscoring opponents 94-7 over the last two games, it seems they've hit a groove both on offense and defense, though of course the caliber of their last two opponents has been very, well, bad. Still, great teams beat up on teams they're supposed to beat up on and the Pats are doing just that.
- Solid Defense
- Tom Brady shakes off rust
- Competent Running Back by Committee
A couple weeks ago, Josh and I were talking about the Pats and I mentioned that statistically, the Pats D was in the top 5. The only game they performed poorly in was the first game of the season against the Bills. Since then, the Patriots defense has kept other team's offense in check enough to give the offense a chance to win the game. In a league where defense wins championships, it's a great sign to see the Patriots defense performing well, even without All-Pro Richard Seymour.
The Patriots defense is relatively young and I imagine as the season goes along will only get better and better.
If you watched the first five games of the season, it was painfully clear that Tom Brady was rusty. He'd constantly overthrow his receivers downfield and simply put wasn't the Tom Brady we were used to. After the past two game, it looks like Tom has shaken off the rust and regained his form. Sure, it was against mediocre defenses, but the accuracy of the deep ball is back and should carry over against stronger defenses, especially if the offensive line can keep the defense off Tom.
No one will argue that the Patriots have a premier rushing attack, especially with the loss of Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris, but so far the running game has been decent to good. And really that's all the Patriots need is a running attack that can gain yards and keep the defense honest. We don't absolutely need an Adrian Peterson or Cedric Benson racking up nearly 200 yards a game, we just need our running game to be respectable, and so far it's been so.
For all the grief Josh and I give Laurence Maroney, he's averaging over 4.5 yards per carry, which is good enough to keep the defense from stacking up against the passing attack and allowing the play-action pass to be effective. Right now our running game is competent and brings back memories of our first Super Bowl victory, when the Pats relied on a decent running game and the short passing game.
In my opinion, the above three observations are all positive signs that the Patriots are headed in the right direction. Hopefully they can keep the momentum going after the bye week and beat up on the Miami Dolphins. What do you think about the Patriots season so far?