By: Derek Havens
After an unbelievable performance by the Patriots in Chicago, they have improved to an 11 – 2 record. With this win, the Patriots are the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff birth.
For the second week in a row, the Pats won’t have too many negatives to look at in the film room. There is certainly a “buzz” around the team and in the fan base now, as the playoffs rapidly approach. Still, if the Patriots want the #1 seed, they must continue giving a strong effort down the stretch.
Reviewing the game, here are 5 thoughts that stood out to me during the game:
Is Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis Improving? – Am I the only person that believes Benny is getting faster? Each week, his development is evident and his improvement has far surpassed many fans expectations. There is a lot to like about Green- Ellis; he runs hard, durable, does not turn the ball over, keeps his legs moving, hits the hole, explosive after contact etc. His production is keeping opposing defenses honest and keeping the Pats offense balanced.
Tom Brady Continues to Dominate – Tom Brady has been playing at an MVP level this season, and his MVP candidacy definitely grew stronger after this victory. Brady has now gone eight games without an interception, with his last pick coming against the Ravens in October. Brady threw for 367 yards and went 27-40 in almost whiteout conditions. His play has elevated this offense to another level and they seem to be unstoppable of late.
Patriots Physicality Evident- Last year, the Patriots were criticized for not being the most physical football team. In the off-season, many were calling for the team to establish toughness along the line positions. Well, the Pats seem to have responded to the criticism this season and have adopted a more physical style on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the change is very visible. The corners have been asked to jam opposing receivers and play up on the line. On the offensive side of the ball, Logan Mankins and the other offensive lineman have won the battle of the trenches the past few weeks. The Pats strength coach, Mike Woicik, has done an excellent job with the team this year.
Patriots Turnover Margin- The Patriots increased their turnover margin to an incredible +18 after Sunday’s victory over the Chicago Bears. The Patriots have done a remarkable job of taking care of the football and not turning the ball over. This margin is now the #1 in the NFL and is certainly propelling this team to great wins.
Road Woes Disappeared? – One of the many flaws of last years Patriots team was the ability to win on the road. The team had a 1 – 6 record (2-6 if you count the neutral field site in London) on road against opposing teams. The team seems to have solved that issue this season as they are now 5 – 2 on the road. With only one road game left on the year (at Buffalo) along with their dominance at home, they are setting themselves up for the stretch.
Overall, just another solid performance from the team in all three phases of the game. This team is firing on all cylinders and seem unstoppable at times. Now they come back home to face the Green Bay packers on Sunday night.