At the midway point of the 2018 NFL season, the New England Patriots are 6-2 in the AFC East, The only other competition the Patriots face are the 7=1 Kansas City Chiefs. Earlier in the season, the Patriots handed the Chiefs their first loss of the season. In this post, we will examine three reasons why the Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC. Why The Patriots Are Still The Team To Beat In The AFC For 2018
Well, Balanced Offense; At 41 years old the Patriots still have one of the most explosive offennses in football. Forty _One years old Tom Brady is still the best player in football. Also, in the mix is a healthy Julian Edelman and a new receiver in ex _Brown Josh Gordon.
Although the team lost veteran Danny Amendola to free agency, the Patriot’s are well _stocked at receiver. In the offseason, the club added ex_ Raider Cordarrelle Patterson. After eight games Patterson has been a valuable acquisition splitting time between running back and receiver. Not to mention a ninety_ five_ yard touchdown return against Chicago.
Other key offensive contributors have been Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski, receiver Chris Hogan and running back Sony Michel. Michel the team’s 2017 number one pick out of Georgia. After eight games Michel has run for 422 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensive Issues; The 2018 Patriot defense is not much different than their defense of a year ago. Free agent signees Adrian Clayborn, Danny Shelton and Jason McCourty have not been effective.
currently, the teams rank 25th among NFL teams in total yards. They have given up 27 passing touchdowns after eight games. On the positive side, the club ranks 14th against the run. If the Patriots have any aspirations of returning to the Super Bowl, the backfield must tighten up.
A Healthy Brady; At 41 years old Tom Brady still remains one of the best players in NFL history. Brady ranks near the top in every category. Considering the offseason drama regarding the benching of Malcolm Butler the team continues to win with Brady calling the signals.
As it stands now the AFC championship is between the Patriots and KansCi tyChiefs. Although the team handed the Chiefs their first loss they are still the two best teams in the AFC..If the Patriots can stay healthy then return trip to the Super Bowl is possible. Look for a Patriots Los Angeles Rams meeting in the 2019 Super Bowl. .
Anybody who is a fan of the NFL understands you cannot tell how a team will fare after just one game. This past Sunday the Patriots enjoyed their first win of the season with a 27-20 win over the improved Houston Texans. In this post, we will cover three areas on why the Patriots are still a favourite to return to the Super Bowl going forward in 2018.
What We Have Learned from the Patriots After Week One Going Forward In 2018
Balanced Attack Like any Patriots team under Bill Belichick we witnessed a well_ balanced attack in Sunday’s win. Offensively Tom Brady passed for 277 yards On the ground the team rushed for 122 yards for a grand total of 389 yards combined for the day. Contributing in the effort were Rex Burkhead, James White, and James Devlin In the receiving department, Rob Gronkowski had 7 catches for 168 yards. Also in the mix was wideout Phillip Dorsett 7 catches for 61 yards. Dorsett had his best day as a Patriot. Improved Defense During the course of the game the Patriots put enormous pressure on quarterback Deshaun Watson. Defensively the team had three sacks. Led by Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler and newcomer Danny Shelton. In the defensive backfield area cornerback, Stephon Gilmore was credited with one interception and free agent cornerback JC Jackson had an impressive professional debut by not getting beat on any of Deshaun Watson’s throwing attempts to his side. Superior Coaching Despite the offseason loss of defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to Detroit the clubs coaching is still the best in the business. New Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores had the defense well prepared in Sunday’s win. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has a challenge ahead of him due to the loss of Nate Solder. Newly acquired Trent Brown from San Francisco has made an impression. With the loss of number one pick, Isaiah Wynn the Patriots will meet the challenge
Remaining Games Ahead in 2018 As far as the rest of the games for 2018 the Patriots have their work cut out for the Outside of their division The club faces Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. Not to mention a week two rematch with Jacksonville. If the Patriots hope to reach the Super Bowl, then Tom Brady needs dependable protection all season. Also, the team needs Rob Gronkowski healthy for all sixteen games and the playoffs
Now that the Patriots have moved on after suffering a 41-33 loss to the Eagles it’s time to restructure through the draft. Currently, the Patriots have six picks whether Bill Belichick keeps his first_ round pick remains to be seen. In this post, we’ll analyze the Patriots needs.
The Nfl Draft 2018 Analyzing the Patriots Needs
Pass Rush, For those of us who witnessed the Eagles run wild against the defense .it’s safe to say the team lacks an effective pass rusher. Eagle running back LeGarrette Blount averaged 3.1 yards per carry This is truly an embarrassing statistic whether it’s the Super Bowl or a regular season game.Some quality defensive tackles that may be available at 31 are Michigan’s, Maurice Hurst. Hurst had 56 tackles last year 12 which went for a loss An interesting prospect is RJ McIntosh of Miami Fla also could be available.He had 56 tackles to his credit 12 which were for a loss. Mc Intosh was one of the best players in the country last year. Another name to keep an eye on is USC’s Rasheem Green. Green had 46 tackles last year and had an impressive 10 sacks. Pass Coverage; Not only did the Eagles run all over the Patriots Foles had one of his best days as a pro by throwing for 300 yards. Even though cornerback Malcolm Butler was benched by Belichick moments before the game New England’s secondary was lost. This year’s secondary class is deep with quality cornerbacks and safety’s. Two names to keep an eye on are Pittsburgh’s Jordan Whitehead and Stanford’ s Justin Reid. Reid was one of the best safety’s in the country last year has he had 99 tackles and six interceptions. Whitehead is one of the most physical defenders in the country who can also play receiver. Ronnie Harrison of Alabama could be a mid _round pick. Harrison had 70 tackles last year plus 2 sacks.
The Patriots suffered a huge loss in free agency with the loss of tackle Nate Solder signing with the Giants. With two second round picks look for the team to draft a tackle and a blocking tight end. Brian Oniel of Pittsburgh is one of the best linemen in the draft who can also play tight end. Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli is one of the best blocking tight ends who could be available. As we have seen many times in the Belichick era, he has a history of trading his first pick for mid _round picks. This year may be no exception since the Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo in October.
Any good quarterback who plays football college or pro wishes for two things one a successful team and two good protection. So far after seven games, Brady has thrown for over two thousand yards and thrown fifteen touchdown passes. Forty_ five may not happen Overall not a bad season considering he’s been sacked for a total of eighteen times. Last season, for example, Brady was sacked fifteen times in twelve games. If you think about deflate_ gate was the best thing to happen to him. He had four games to rest his shoulder which enabled him to stay healthy and advance to the super bowl. This season,_ however, Brady’s protection has been horrible at best. Offensive tackle Nate Solder a ten- year member of the team has been called for having several penalties which put added pressure on Brady. The Patriots are already thin on offense with a season_ ending to slot receiver Julian Edelman. Edelman was Brady’s most trusted receiver before he got hurt. Brady is known for his quick release, but with so many penalties Brady may be in for a long season. On the defensive side, the Patriots have been improving each week. On a sad note the Patriots did learn that defensive captain Donta Hightower is out for the season . This certainly doesn’t help New England who had difficulty stopping the run even when Hightower was healthy. Injuries are part of the game, but with bad protection and Hightowers injury Brady’s health could be in danger. As the season approaches the halfway point look for New England to be active at the trade deadline. With eight games left and three out of the four games on the road the Patriots need to focus on two things one good protection and two stopping the run. Middle linebackers Kyle Van Noy and David Harris have been playing better. If the Patriots want to go deep in the playoffs then they will have to play sixty minutes of smart football. The 4-3 Bills have been the surprise of the division. If Brady continues to play under heavy pressure then his plans to play until he’s forty five may be in jeopardy.
After three weeks of the 2017 football season, the New England Patriots have several red flags that seriously need improvement. Coming off their fifth Super Bowl win this year is no different. New England is an organization that demands excellence. But their are some areas concerning the team. Area number one is the pass protection; Last week against the Saints Tom Brady was sacked three times one sack resulted in a fumble ran back for a touchdown. The Patriots have all their lineman returning from a year ago. Since the season opener against Kansas City, Brady has been under constant pressure. Veteran tackle Nate Solder has been a huge disappointment, so far getting beat on mostly every snap this season. I f the protection doesn’t get better his days as a Patriot may come to an end. Special teams has been another area of concern, for New England. Long time kicker Stephen Gostowski has lost the confidence of the fans,after last years poor playoff performance. Punter Ryan Allen has been sub parr so far this season. After three games this season Allen has been averaging only 35/40 yards per punt. Defense has been the biggest disappointment, this season. Normally the Patriots rank close to the top,but this year the team ranks towards the bottom. Safety Devin McCourty leads the team with 23 solo tackles. In the off season the Patriots went out and signed Buffalo free agent corner Stephon Gilmore. After three games Gilmore has look lost and confused, but does have one interception. Controversial corner back Malcom Butler has been also off missing several assignments. If the defense doesn’t play better, head coach Bill Belicheck may have no choice but to trade some veterans for help up front. Veterans such as Alan Branch and Malcom Butler need to step up if they want to keep their jobs. For a team coming off their fifth Super Bowl win the Patriots realize that their are several areas of concern. Bill Belichick will not stand for complacency; With the NFL trade deadline a couple of weeks away Belichick won’t hesitate, to make deals in order to improve the Patriots.
It’s a scary thought that the 2016/17 Super Bowl champions got better in the off season. But the truth of the matter is they did. The Patriots pulled far ahead of the AFC pack this past off season. The only teams that were more active than the Patriots were the Browns, Raiders,Colts and Titans. Patriot nation is talking about a 19-0 season but it is what it is just talk. When the clock struck twelve this past March 1st the Patriots went right to work stockpiling in quest of super bowl number six. The Pat’s started out by signing Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore to seven years the biggest free agent signing in Patriot history. Then it was a trade with the Saints that bought 23 year old receiver Brandon Cooks to New England. On a normal season Pat’s fans hope that veterans Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola can stay healthy. But hopefully not this year Cooks joins Amendola, Edelman, Chris Hogan and Andrew Hawkins In the tight end department the Pat’s got another shot in the by signing Colts tight end Dwayne Allen and Chiefs tight end James O’Shaughnessy . If Gronkowski goes down the Pats are well stocked. On the defensive side of the ball the Pats reached at one year deal with holdout Malcom Butler. The long rumored deal had Butler going to New Orleans for it’s 11th pick in the first round but the deal never happened. Butler and Gilmore will be the toughest backfield to throw on. If the Pats stay fairly healthy they could make their second trip to the Super Bowl in two years. Make no mistake about the schedule is not as easy as people think. Any game at Pittsburgh is tough as is the Falcons and Raiders. A trip to Miami later on in the season is no easy task. Don’t forget the 10-6 Dolphins were one of the most improved teams in the AFC last year. If all goes according to plan look for the Patriots and Raiders to meet in the AFC Championship game in January. I look for the Raiders to win the AFC west in 2017.