Patriots’ superlatives as they make their second half playoff push

Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski’s gives some love to the end zone militia in Foxboro. Credit: Getty Images

The Patriots are sitting pretty atop the AFC East with a 7-2 record after their Week 10 bye. It certainly hasn’t been a pretty seven wins, but it’s those grind-it-out games that may prove beneficial down the stretch and into the postseason.

So, how did the Pats get to this point and where are they going? Here are some superlatives heading into the final seven games of the regular season:

MVPs (so far) – Chandler Jones and Devin McCourty
On a defense that has lost so many players over the course of the season, you’d think that the Patriots would be giving up tons of points. But through their first nine games, they’re only allowing an average of 19.4 points per game, good for eighth fewest in the NFL. The defensive line has taken some hits, but Chandler Jones is doing his own hitting. He has 50 tackles on the year, including a team-high 8.5 sacks. Devin McCourty is the most versatile player on the Patriots defense, being able to play safety, cornerback, and special teams. He also has 50 tackles on the season, to go with six passes defended. He’s been huge in the secondary for New England, especially with Aqib Talib out.

Biggest loss – Vince Wilfork
You could make a case for Jerod Mayo – the brains of the defense – but Big Vince Wilfork edges out Mayo here. The reason is simple: Wilfork is the best nose tackle in the game, often times commanding double teams from the offensive line, which then frees things up for another player on the Patriots D. With Wilfork (and Tommy Kelly) out for the year, opposing teams have found success up the gut, averaging 128.2 yards on the ground per game (30th in NFL). Replacements Chris Jones and Joe Vellano are doing their best to fill in.


They’ll need more from – Stevan Ridley
Stevan Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Needless to say, there were big expectations for him this season. That’s why it’s been a bit of a head-scratcher as to why his role in the offense started off so small. Ridley has only reached the 20-carry plateau twice this season, and topped 100 yards once – last week. Perhaps that’s a sign of things to come. The Patriots offense has been hard to watch at times, so getting Ridley more involved to help balance the passing game with the running game is essential going forward.

Most likely to be dominant by Christmas – Rob Gronkowski
To give you an idea of the importance of Rob Gronkowski to the Pats offense this year, he’s already reached a new career-high in receptions per game – twice. Gronk caught a then-career-high eight passes against the Jets in Week 7, only to pass that in Week 9 against the Steelers (nine catches, 143 yards, touchdown). He’s averaging 11 targets per game. But even when Gronk isn’t catching passes, he makes an impact with his blocking and by opening up the field for receivers like Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and Aaron Dobson. Gronk is vital to New England’s success down the stretch.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.