Last season the New England Patriots lost in the Super Bowl…again. This season, Coach Bill Belichick tweaked his strategy trying to establish the running game for the first time since Curtis Martin took the handoffs in the backfield. The results have been astounding. The team finished the year with 12 wins, picking up steam in the second half of the schedule, only losing one of the last eight games of the year. They also managed to continue to score more than 30 points a game, truly an incredible feat. That feat now has fans revved up for at least one game of home field advantage at Gillette Stadium before booking a trip to New Orleans with New England Patriots tickets to enjoy Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
In order to revive the running game, both the offensive line had to make a few leaps and bounds and the team could no longer survive without a feature back. Stevan Ridley is that feature back and he has over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns this season to prove his case.
No matter how much more emphasis there would be on the running game, Tom Brady was going to be given the chance to throw. Indeed he did, amassing over 4,500 yards and more than 30 touchdowns. Early in the season it appeared Belichick was making a statement choosing plays that did not provide Wes Welker the opportunity to shine as he has in years past. In the end, he recorded more than 100 catches for more than 1,200 yards. The injury to tight end Rob Gronkowski 11 weeks into the season may have led to the increased opportunities for Welker. Gronkowski is back, so he Walker, Aaron Hernandez, and Brandon Lloyd provide plenty of coverage problems for the opposition.
While the offense still manages to put up points and torment the rest of the NFL, the defense has been forced to adopt a style of play fitting the personnel. They were never going to consistently stop the run or the pass. So, asking this collection of player to play like the Giants from a season ago was never going to happen. Instead, the New England Patriots D became a unit focused on turnovers. They easily lead the AFC in turnovers and, when combined with the offense’s ability to control the football, this means it is nearly impossible to beat this team by controlling the clock. All this is going to result in New England playoff tickets for a trip to Super Bowl 47.
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