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

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.