The New England Patriots didn't have much of a pass rush last season, but 2019 has been a far different (and better) story.
The improvement in the Patriots' pass rush was evident Sunday in the team's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, where New England tallied five sacks. The pressure the Pats put on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz swung the momentum in their favor as they shut Philly out over the final three quarters.
The defending Super Bowl champs have dominated opposing offensive lines throughout the season with 37 sacks in 10 games -- the second-highest total in the NFL and two behind the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers for the league lead. The Patriots tallied only 30 sacks in all of 2018, which tied for the second-fewest.
It's been a long time, as ESPN's Mike Reiss notes, since the Patriots had 37 sacks at this point in a season:
From @ESPNStatsInfo: Through 5 sacks today, the Patriots defense is up to 37 sacks on the season, their most through 10 games since 1979 (when they had 43).— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) November 17, 2019
The Patriots have done a good job slowing down the opponent's pass rush, too. Sacks aren't the only stat to factor when grading offensive linemen, but New England's pass protection has allowed the fourth-fewest sacks in the league. The Patriots, as a result, are tied with the 49ers for the best net sack total:
Best teams in NFL in 2019 net sacks (for/allowed):— Greg Auman (@gregauman) November 19, 2019
Sunday's test against the Dallas Cowboys should be a tough one for the Patriots. The Cowboys have one of the most talented offensive lines in the league. Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has been sacked a league-low 12 times, and based on the fact he's playing at an MVP-level right now, pressuring him in the pocket will be of the utmost importance in Week 12.
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