The New England Patriots may not go back to being bona fide Super Bowl contenders, but they are back to being a good team. The Patriots have secured a playoff spot ahead of week 18. They have a chance to be seeded in the AFC if everything goes their way. Even if they don’t, they will still have a chance in the playoffs.
Bill Belichick, stoic and outspoken as ever, gave a simple answer when asked what the Patriots’ strengths were.
Bill Belichick asked to name some traits that defined 2021 #Patriots, defines them as competitive and praises the team’s work ethic.
“It hasn’t always been good, but I would say it was competitive.”
– Andrew Callahan (@_AndrewCallahan) January 7, 2022
The Patriots had no significant expectations to make the postseason this season, the second without Tom Brady. Still, they found a way to win, snatching a seven-game winning streak en route to a season of double-digit wins. With top-notch defense and respectable offense, they have the potential to do some post-season damage.
Newcomer quarterback Mac Jones and running back Damien Harris led a strong attack. Jones proved to be a stable option under the center, throwing for 3,540 yards and 21 touchdowns. Harris rushed for 892 yards and 14 touchdowns, which is the second-place tie in the NFL.
While Jones may be one of New England’s biggest storylines, linebacker Matt Judon and cornerback JC Jackson were the most dominant players on the team. Pro Bowlers help lead a sturdy defensive unit that allows for the fewest points per game in the league. Judon recorded 12.5 sacks while Jackson defended 22 passes and recorded eight interceptions.
New England’s ability to jump straight into playoff contention after a mediocre season speaks to Belichick’s tremendous managerial ability, though he himself won’t talk much about it.