Bye Week Check-Up – New England Patriots

With the bye week of the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots passing us by and the New York Jets entering theirs I will take a look at each of the AFC East teams, where they are now, and where they look headed in the last 10 games of the season.  (9 for the Dolphins who had their bye week too early).  I’ll go in order of the standings so it’s the Pats today, Bills tomorrow, Jets on Wednesday and Dolphins on Thursday.  So here is the our bye week check-up on the #1 seed in the AFC and first place team in the AFC East through 6 games, the New England Patriots

Quarterback

  • Tom Brady (160 for 237, 2,163 yards, 16 TDs, 8 INTs, 104.8 QBR) – Brady is having his usual MVP type season.  What’s shocking is that through 6 games he has twice as many interceptions as he did all of last year.  I guess that’s what happens when you through 4 in a whole season.  Regardless Brady is on fire this season, using all of his weapons.  Some might say he’s been getting some extra motivation from a guy up in Green Bay but it looks to be another banner season for Brady.

Running Backs

  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis (91 for 391, 4.3 avg., 5 TDs, 429 total yards), Stevan Ridley (28 for 180, 6.4 avg., 1 TD, 191 total yards), Danny Woodhead (30 for 122, 4.1 avg., 185 total yards) – Green-Ellis is as consistent as it comes, running for a good average, getting into the end zone, and not losing the football.  Ridley has been somewhat of a revelation as Bill Belichick hasn’t been known to use rookie running backs extensively.  Woodhead has been injured and ahs not been effective as usual.  Ridley will push him for playing time in the second half of the season.

Wide Receivers

  • Wes Welker (51 for 785, 6 TDs, 36 1Ds), Deion Branch (26 for 369, 2 TDs, 18 1Ds), Chad Ochocinco (9 for 136, 7 1Ds), Matthew Slater (1 for 46, 1 1D), Julian Edelman (3 for 25) – Welker is having perhaps his best season yet in his walk year.  Deion Branch is consistent and obviously has amazing chemistry with Tom Brady.  Ochocinco has been a disaster thus far.  Slater got his first catch of the year Week 1 has been quiet since.  Edelman has been hurt and quiet when healthy.

Tight Ends

  • Rob Gronkowski (29 for 401, 5 TDs, 24 1Ds), Aaron Hernandez (27 for 289, 3 TDs, 15 1Ds) – Probably the best all-around unit on offense with 2 of the 3 guys on the roster being elite or near elite producers, both in their second year.  Gronkowski will be the best tight end in the game within 5 years and Hernandez is a match-up nightmare.

Offensive Line

  • Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Brian Waters, Sebastian Vollmer, Dan Koppen, Nate Solder – Overall a very solid year for this group.  Light is steady, Mankins is a beast.  Connolly is starter caliber who they had on their bench at the beginning of the season.  Waters is showing that he can still play at a high level.  Vollmer is good when he is healthy and when he has not rookie Nate Solder has filled in admirably.  Koppen is a mainstay on that line but the Pats have done well weathering the storm in his absence.

Defensive Line

  • Andre Carter (23 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 TFL), Vince Wilfork (12 tackles, 0.5 sack, 1 TFL, 1 FF, 2 INTs), Kyle Love (9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR), Mark Anderson (8 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF), Shaun Ellis (7 tackles, 1 TFL), Gerard Warren (4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR), Albert Haynesworth (2 tackles), Myron Pryor (2 tackles, 0.5 sack) – Belichick’s assortment of veteran players have provided mixed results.  Andre Carter and Mark Anderson have impressed with a combined 6 sacks but Albert Haynesworth has disappointed.  Ellis and Warren have played limited minutes.  Vince Wilfork is still one of the best against the run and he has added pass coverage into his repertoire with two picks this year.

Linebackers

  • Gary Guyton (29 tackles, 1 TFL), Rob Ninkovich (27 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 FR), Brandon Spikes (27 tackles, 1 TFL), Jerod Mayo (25 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FF), Dane Fletcher (10 tackles), Tracy White (7 tackles), Jeff Tarpinian (2 tackles) – The Pats have gotten outstanding play with their MLB duo of Guyton and Spikes.  Ninkovich and Fletcher are holding their own on the edges, they are really solid players.  Mayo’s return to health should be a huge boost for the Pats LB corps

Defensive Backs

  • Devin McCourty (38 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 PD), Patrick Chung (37 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 PD), Kyle Arrington (34 tackles, 4 INTs, 6 PDs), Sergio Brown (21 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PD), Leigh Bodden (17 tackles, 4 PD), James Ihedigbo (17 tackles, 1 TFL), Josh Barrett (13 tackles, 1 TFL), Antwuan Molden (8 tackles), Ras-I Dowling (3 tackles) – The most disappointing unit on the field, particularly Devin McCourty who is having a severe sophomore slump and has no picks in the first 6 games and Ras-I Dowling, the first pick in the 2nd round of the draft, who has barely played.  Patrick Chung has been by far the best player in the unit.  Kyle Arrington has pleasantly surprised.

Coaching

  • Bill Belichick is still one of the best coaches in the NFL and will be as long as he continues to coach.  Bill O’Brien has put the pieces in the right places on offense.

Remaining Schedule

  • @ Pittsburgh
  • NY Giants
  • @ NY Jets
  • Kansas City
  • @ Philadelphia
  • Indianapolis
  • @ Washington
  • @ Denver
  • Miami
  • Buffalo

Not a hard schedule at all, I see them losing at least one more game though and it could be the one this week in Pittsburgh.  Depending on where they finish, that New Year’s Day game may mean more to the Bills than the Patriots.  Final outlook is 13-3 and first in the AFC East.  I’ll say it’s a toss-up between the Pats and the Ravens for the #1 seed.

Twitter @ErikVenskus

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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