The Patriots did what no other team in the NFL had done in 2014 last Sunday by blowing out the Broncos, 43-21. Denver’s potent offense had been held to less than 21 points only once prior to its meeting with the Pats, as it could only muster 20 points in a 26-20 loss at Seattle on Sept. 21.
While some may still hesitate to rank the Pats defense alongside the likes of the Legion of Boom, there is little doubt that New England has dramatically improved on that side of the ball this season. Starting a week from Sunday in Indianapolis, we’ll find out just how dominant the unit is.
New England plays the Colts, Lions, Packers, Chargers and Dolphins in a row coming off the bye, with all five offenses presenting large challenges. The Colts lead the league in total offense. The Lions, already ranked ninth in the league in passing yards per game, get – arguably – the most talented receiver in the game back this week in Calvin Johnson. The Packers rank sixth in points per game at 27.8 and feature the highest rated quarterback (113.6) in the league in Aaron Rodgers. San Diego’s Philip Rivers, despite recent struggles, is still seventh in the NFL in passing yards and had the Chargers’ offense humming before the bottom fell out in Week 7 at home against the Chiefs. Miami’s Ryan Tannehill looks like a new man leading the Dolphins’ offense as he has a 6:1 touchdown-interception ratio the past three weeks (all Miami wins).
Creating turnovers is obviously key for the Patriots going forward against these formidable offenses. Excluding the Thursday night Jets game three weeks back, in which New York played New England to something of a standstill, the Patriots have made a living creating turnovers since the blowout win over Cincinnati in Week 5. The Patriots defense recovered three fumbles in the Bengals game, recovered two fumbles and picked off Kyle Orton once in the Buffalo game, had a fumble recovery for a touchdown and had a pick against Chicago, and picked off Peyton Manning twice last week.