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The New England Patriots Play into a New Era

The New England Patriots are finding ways to win with a superior defense and a rookie quarterback. But how high is their ceiling this season?

Patriots Helmets by Brook Ward is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The New England Patriots Play into a New Era

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

The New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills played out a wild, windy, winter affair on Monday night in Orchard Park. The game was weird on a number of levels, and it started with the opening kickoff having a mind of its own and the ball finding its way deep into the stands. Obnoxious Patriots fans will say this is the proof that “we’re back” and Mac Attack is going to raise the Lombardi Trophy.

I’m not here to rub this win in the face of anyone. What I am here to do is explain that Bill Belichick has proven that he still reigns supreme. And his team legitimately has a chance to get to the big dance this year. So here’s my case for why the Pats have proven it only took one year to get over TB12. And how they’re not just set up for the future. They are set up to win now – somehow.

Smash. Mouth. Football. 

I said to multiple people that it felt as though I was watching a high school football game.

Buffalo knew the Pats were going to run it up the middle, and they couldn’t do a darn thing about it. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson combined for 189 yards on the ground, helping to eat the clock as part of 46 running plays. There are no words for how impressive the abilities these backs have to be Energizer Bunnies.  Even some WRs got into the mix. All in all, seven different Patriots contributed to the running game, forcing Buffalo’s defense to ingest back to back 200 yard games on the ground.

If Tom Brady was still behind center in New England, they wouldn’t have had the same game; the fact that Mac Jones is a rookie means that coaching didn’t have to deal with his ego about not throwing the ball. He’s just happy to be there as part of the whole. If the Patriots can draw up a scheme in which their quarterback throws the ball just three times, and win against a playoff contender and division rival, Mac should be willing to do whatever they throw at him. Even if he can’t throw back.

The defense remains on fire, even in frigid conditions.  Every time the Bills got in the RedZone, I expected them to pull out a touchdown.  But I was amazed at how well the Pats D kept the Bills on their toes, even shutting down Allen when the time was right. He should have been the X factor for Buffalo in this game, but he never really got it going.

Good time for a Bye

This bye week comes at a great time for New England. They have some injuries that need time. Damien Harris can let his hamstring heal, and everyone can rest and heal and get ready for the rest of the regular season. A quick rematch with Buffalo and a newly flexed Saturday Night matchup against a surging Colts team are next on the books. And you can never count out the Dolphins in Miami. Then hopefully Jacksonville is a cake-walk.

I may not get to watch the Patriots, but I can’t wait to watch the Bills visit Tampa on Sunday.

How high is their ceiling?

I’ll admit that I really thought this team was going to go 9-8 at best, and that would have been considered a triumph. A rookie quarterback learning a new system. But this defense has been too good. And Mac has definitely proven me wrong.

Sure, technically they could still end this season 9-8. But I doubt it. The New England Patriots are now sitting as the current number one seed in the AFC. The new playoff structure this year means the one seed is the only one to get a bye.

If the Patriots can weather the storm, and somehow manage to finish in that top spot, they simply shouldn’t be slept on. After all, they’re on a seven game win streak as we speak. Give these guys the extra time to prepare, and to play at home, and history tells us they should be booking a Super Bowl ticket. That said, they’re a perfect 6-0 on the road and only 3-4 at home. But that playoff home field should be a rocking advantage.

The AFC is wide open, and New England may just have the right recipe to take back what has been almost exclusively theirs for the past two decades.

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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