Going into the season with a rookie quarterback, most everyone expected the Patriots to be led by their defense, as well as rely on their experienced offensive line and running backs to win games.
It took nine games into the season, but it seems like the Patriots are finally doing it.
New England has won three games in row, their first three-game win streak since starting 8-0 in 2019, and in those games it has allowed an average of 14.3 points per game, while forcing eight turnovers.
Before the three-game win streak, the Patriots were allowing an average of 21.2 points per game. The seven-point difference is pretty significant.
On top of that, the offense averaged 147 rushing yards in those games and the 441 total yards are the third-most in the NFL over the last three weeks.
Over the first six games of the year, the offense averaged 86.7 yards per game — just more than a 60-yard difference.
Now at 5-4 and playing their best football of the season, the Patriots are ranked No. 9 in overall defense and fourth in points allowed. The key to their offense is taking care of the football. They have just 14 turnovers on the year, which are the eighth-fewest in the league and have just three over their three-game win streak.
Clearly, things have worked for them the last three games, but is it sustainable? Can this continue against teams like the Browns, Titans and Bills (twice) as the Patriots look to make a push for the postseason?
The answer is yes and things could get even better, but only if things continue to go their way.
The Patriots need to stay healthy and are already being tested with running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson leaving Sunday’s game with head injuries.
Right now, Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor are the only two healthy running backs on the roster and it already seemed like the Patriots were toeing the line with depending on Bolden to replace James White’s productivity on third down. The veteran has done a terrific job so far, but it’s worth wondering if it can continue over the remaining eight games of the season.
And then the Patriots cannot afford to lose Harris and Stevenson for any extended period of time. While the offensive line has done a good job creating holes, these two have ran extremely hard the last few weeks and established a physical brand of football.
Defensively, the Patriots have remained relatively healthy, especially in their front-seven. If the unit can avoid major injuries, it can continue to build on what its done the last month or so and continue to climb the defensive rankings.
Going into the year many called it a top-10 to potentially a top-five defense, and while it took almost half the season, things are starting to play out as expected.
As the saying goes, it doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish, which is what the 2021 Patriots are striving for.
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