Patriots

Why have Patriots started fast in 2019? Tom Brady gives fitting answer

Why have Patriots started fast in 2019? Tom Brady gives fitting answer

The New England Patriots have not won fewer than 11 games in any season this decade, and that trend is very unlikely to end in 2019.

The defending Super Bowl champions are 6-0 entering their Week 7 road game against the rival New York Jets on "Monday Night Football." New England is undefeated at this juncture of the season for the first time since 2015.

The Patriots have struggled to start fast several times in recent seasons. Here's a look at the their record through the first four games of the last eight campaigns (including 2019):

2019: 4-0
2018: 2-2
2017: 2-2
2016: 3-1
2015: 4-0
2014: 2-2
2013: 4-0
2012: 2-2

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked Wednesday during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio if there's anything different about the team this season that's leading to the fast start. 

"Our defense has given us, I think, that ability (to start fast this season), because the way they've been playing," Brady said. "They've been playing that way all the way back into the spring. They're just doing a great job. They have a lot of great continuity. The secondary -- look how long they've played together. The group of linebackers -- look how long they've played together. What they're doing to get to the quarterback, and they have such a good mix of players who can rush and cover.

"We've been gettng ahead of teams. Our defense has really been thriving -- leading the league in turnovers, leading the league in sacks, what they've been doing on third downs has been incredible. I think they've just been playing so spectacular that it's given our team a huge boost."

The Patriots defense is off to a historic start. The unit has allowed the fewest points per game (8.0) and yards per game (234.7) of any team through the first six weeks. The pass rush also has been tremendous, and as Brady noted, the defense leads the league in sacks and turnovers (including a league-high 14 interceptions). The Patriots' point differential of plus-142 is the best in the league, and well ahead of the San Francisco 49ers (plus-83) in second place.

New England's fast start has allowed it to build an early lead in the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots fell short of this goal last season, even though it ultimately didn't matter after they beat the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in the AFC Championship Game. But the Patriots should absolutely chase that seed this season because they are almost unbeatable at home. In fact, they've won 19 consecutive games at Gillette Stadium, including the playoffs.

The Patriots' fast start in 2019 should go a long way in ensuring the road to Super Bowl LIV in Miami goes down Route 1 in Foxboro. 

Phillip Dorsett gives encouraging update on his Week 7 status>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

How Patriots defense could struggle with Amari Cooper, Cowboys' receivers

How Patriots defense could struggle with Amari Cooper, Cowboys' receivers

The New England Patriots will face one of their toughest opponents of the season in the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon.

While the offense continues to struggle, frustrating Tom Brady, the defense has been a game-changer throughout the campaign -- helping New England eke out a 17-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend. 

The only time the defense really struggled this season was when it allowed 37 points to the Lamar Jackson-led Baltimore Ravens in Week 9. With a similar offensive style to the Ravens, Dallas could potentially shred the Patriots defense if given the opportunity.

Wide receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb and Tavon Austin have combined for 141 catches, 2,149 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. 37-year-old tight end Jason Witten also has 41 receptions for 371 yards and two TDs.

None of those receivers would be having such great seasons if it weren't for quarterback Dak Prescott. The 26-year-old's 3,221 passing yards lead all NFL quarterbacks, and his 21 touchdowns rank second behind Russell Wilson -- he'll be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than the receivers.

The combination of speed and skill the offense brings to the Cowboys' lineup has caused Patriots' cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino to take notice. 

“These guys can keep you up at night,” Pellegrino said of Dallas' wide receivers on a Tuesday conference call. 

And it's no surprise as to why Dallas ranks first in total yards per game and sixth in scoring. So, the Prescott-led Cowboys could potentially cause New England some problems -- and Pellegrino alluded to that. 

“We’ve got Cooper, Cobb, Gallup and then you’ve got Austin,” Pellegrino said. “Starting with the coaching staff over there, they’ve done a great job with these guys – the OC, [Kellen] Moore, and the wide receiver coach, Sanjay [Lal]. ... We’ve got our work cut out for us this week and we’re excited for the opportunity to go against these guys. It should be a good challenge for us.”

Although they pose a challenge, the Patriots also have a few notable players with some pretty impressive stats on the defensive side of the ball. Devin McCourty is tied for first in the NFL with five interceptions, while Jamie Collins and Stephon Gilmore (among others) are tied for fifth with three. 

It's clear that Sunday's matchup will be a good one -- especially considering the two are leading their respective divisions. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

 

 

NFL rumors: Patriots activate Isaiah Wynn in huge boost for offensive line

NFL rumors: Patriots activate Isaiah Wynn in huge boost for offensive line

The New England Patriots offensive line is about to receive a huge boost.

UPDATE (Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 5:06 p.m. ET): The Patriots have made Wynn's return and Gunner Olszewski's move to injured reserve official.

--End of Update--

Talented left tackle Isaiah Wynn has been activated to the 53-man roster, the Boston Globe's Jim McBride reported Tuesday. ESPN's Mike Reiss reported earlier in the day the Patriots planned to place rookie wide receiver Gunner Olszewski on injured reserve to create a roster spot for Wynn's return.

The Patriots had until Wednesday to activate Wynn.

Wynn played very well early this season before suffering a foot injury in New England's Week 2 victory over the Miami Dolphins. He went on injured reserve immediately after, giving the Patriots another injury to overcome along the offensive line.

The second-year left tackle returned to practice on Oct. 30. Wynn, who was one of two first-round draft picks made by the Patriots in 2018, missed all of his 2018 rookie season with a torn Achilles.

The Patriots will host the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday's Week 12 matchup at Gillette Stadium.

Phil Perry's Week 11 Patriots report card>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.