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

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…