NFL Playoff Team Preview: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
AFC PLAYOFF TEAM PREVIEW
#1 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
2017 RECORD: 13-3 ( 5-1 in Division)
Passing offense rank: 2nd
Rushing offense rank: 10th
Passing defense rank: 30th
Rushing defense rank: 20th
The Patriots 2017 season started with a banner raising ceremony then a full on beat down from the Kansas city Chiefs. To say the Champs got off on the wrong foot is an understatement. The loss of key players made last years top ranked defense look like a high school junior varsity team. Ron Ninkovich retired and Jabaal Sheard is now a Colt so the teams pass rush isn’t what it once was.
The addition of Stephon Gilmore was suppose to boost the secondary but he went through some growing pains. The team would gain traction like a Bill Belichick team always seem to do. After a 2-2 start they rattle off 8 straight wins, A Monday night stunner by the Dolphins would bring the winning streak to a halt. That loss set up a showdown with the Steelers the next week. The Patriots won that closely contested game to move back into the #1 seed in the AFC.
New England has super bowl aspirations like always but the AFC looks more formidable with some tough young teams and the Patriots secondary that seems to miss assignments at the worst possible times. But with TB12 under center you will be hard pressed to find an NFL fan, coach or analyst that will whole heartedly bet against the defending Champs.
Offensive MVP: Tom Brady
Defensive MVP: Alan Branch