The New England Patriots ended the season with a 7-1 record after the bye week. When combined with a 5-3 record before the bye, this leaves Pats fans a game short of home field advantage throughout the playoffs. This is really of no matter to Coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and the football obsessed inMassachusettsand the surrounding states. New England Patriots tickets have been good for a win as often on home as on the road.
Still, the stands at Gillette Stadium will be packed for at least one home game, as this team enters the postseason with a first round bye. This will give the roster a much needed rest and the opportunity for an extra week to heal, all in the name of reaching Super Bowl 47 at the Superdome inNew Orleans.
New Englanddominated in the regular season by overwhelming opposing defenses with an obscenely efficient and prolific passing and running game and forcing turnovers with a bend and not break defense. The most intriguing development has definitely been the ground game, where the Patriots have not been strong in recent years. This season the team has found its primary back in Stevan Ridley. Last season he was part of a running back by committee, but this season he is the number one back and he surpassed 1,000 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.
Brady is still a major part of the equation though. He once again threw for more than 4,500 yards and more than 30 touchdowns. His 4-to-1 TD-INT ratio is impeccable and his ability to spread the football keeps the defense on edge, which must be confounded when suddenly asked to also stop a top-tier running game.
The defense does not have particularly impressive numbers in terms of yards allowed. This unit was not going to succeed if Belichick demanded they become a stalwart unit. Instead, the Pats defense excelled at creating turnovers. Equally adept picking off the pass as forcing the fumble, the defense has made averaging a little more than 35 points a game easy. This also means fans may soon be celebrating the first Super Bowl win in nearly a decade.