Patriots 3 Things to watch for - Metro US

Patriots 3 Things to watch for

1 Can Cutler stand up to the rush?

Nobody in the NFL has gotten sacked more this season than Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler — 41 times so far.

Because of the pressure opposing defenses are putting on him, he’s fumbled the ball eight times. On top of that, he’s thrown 10 interceptions.

The Patriots will have to continue rattling Cutler in the pocket and getting him on the run come Sunday. He has a history of being careless with the ball, especially in critical situations, and that could be key — New England has won every game this year in which it’s won the turnover

2 Earning a berth isn’t enough for the Pats

Before the season, we figured anybody picking the Patriots to win 13-plus games was drinking a little too much of that dirty water. But they’ve proven everyone wrong so far, and look to be the team to beat in the NFL.

They can clinch a playoff berth on Sunday with a win over Chicago. But at this point, simply earning a playoff berth isn’t good enough.

The Pats surely won’t admit it, but their eyes are definitely on that first-round bye and home-field advantage.

And they’re in charge of their own destiny, which is more than a lot of teams can say.

3 Will the rookies keep up their play?

This looks like the strongest draft class the Patriots have seen in years.

First-round pick Devin McCourty has six interceptions on the season, including one in each of the last three games. LB Brandon Spikes recorded his first career pick against the Jets, and has 61 total tackles.

Meanwhile on offense, TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have become QB Tom Brady’s top two targets. The former has already set a team record for rookie TEs with six TDs.

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