After a win against reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, the New England Patriots are beginning to put the rest of the NFL on notice, showing them that they should not be written off just yet. It appears that for the entirety of this season the Patriots have been playing up or down their opponents, and if they can begin to find some consistency, they could potentially compete for a wild card spot. So what do the Pats need to improve upon to continue to build on their current two-game win streak?
The run game:
The Patriots seemed to have found a guy who can serve as a workhorse with the emergence of Damien Harris. Since coming off IR, Harris has recorded three 100-plus yard rushing games. With him playing as well as he is, and with hope that the offensive line can remain healthy, he and Sony Michel can make a good one-two punch as power backs with Rex Burkhead and James White taking on most of the receiving duties out of the backfield.
Jakobi Meyers is showing out:
In the past few weeks, Cam Newton has made it known that one of his most trustworthy receivers this season has been Jakobi Meyers. Meyers has been targeted a significant amount since Julian Edelman went down with injury, and he even put his versatility on display by throwing a touchdown pass to Rex Burkhead in their previous game against the Ravens.
With Jakobi Meyers showing that he can be Newton’s security blanket, the passing game should begin to run a bit smoother once reinforcements like Isaiah Ford come into the mix and when Edelman comes back from injury. That's not to say that they couldn’t use a surefire number one receiver, because they absolutely do, but it doesn’t look like that will be coming this year. Therefore, N’Keal Harry will have to step up significantly if he wants to prove that he can be that type of guy.
The Patriots defense has its strengths and weaknesses for sure. They have one of the best secondarys in the league when they incorporate Stephon Gilmore in the mix, but even without him they are still pretty good. They have won the past two games without Gilmore, but should be getting him back as soon as this week. Their weakness this season has undoubtedly been their front seven. Their linebacking core seems to be made up of a third-year middle linebacker in Ja'Whaun Bentley and two rookie outside linebackers in Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche. Although some have shown flashes, none have stood out to show that they should be starters on a top-tier defense. The Patriots are twenty-sixth in league in sacks, and yet they are thirteenth in the league in total yards allowed. This ultimately proves that their front seven could use a major facelift in the future and that their secondary bails them out a fair amount.
As of right now, the Patriots are 4–5 and playoff hopes are beginning to come back as they have rattled off two wins in a row. However, the three wild card positions are being held by teams that are all 6–3, so the Pats still have some ground to make up. The Patriots cannot afford many more losses, as one more loss could derail their whole season. However, if they can find a way to win out, they could find themselves in the playoffs and maybe even with a division lead come the end of the season.