October 2019 Check-In: New England Patriots
FOXBOROUGH – We're one month into the NFL season and the New England Patriots, at 4-0, are one of three remaining undefeated teams, along with the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Can this continue?
Where They Stand: The Patriots have been absolutely dominant so far in 2019. They are 4-0 and in first place in the AFC East, thanks to wins against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills. Currently a Super Bowl favorite, they are undeniably a force to be reckoned with.
Where They Were Last Month: Ahead of the season, many expected New England to be contenders, but not the favorites they have proven themselves to be. Kansas City remains the stiffest competition, but for now, New England has cemented themselves as one of the top teams in the league.
Who's Hurt?: The Patriots are relatively healthy at the moment. Obviously, center David Andrews is out for the year and wide receiver N'Keal Harry is on the injured reserve, but aside from that, things seem pretty good. The Patriots would like to have James Develin back soon, but until then, Brandon Bolden has been performing as needed in the backfield. Dont'a Hightower missed last week's game with a shoulder injury, but he should be back soon. Julian Edelman seems to be doing fine after his week three chest injury.
Biggest Strength: There's no doubt it's the defense. To start the season, the Patriots defense has been historically incredible, allowing just one offensive touchdown to opposing teams and holding the total score against to just 27 points. They've racked up almost as many sacks, with 26, to go with 10 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 defensive touchdowns. Devin McCourty has not yet had a 2019 game without a pick. The defense is easily the best in the league right now. Also, Kyle Van Noy was just named as the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week!
Biggest Weakness: It's probably the offensive line. There's not a lot of space being created on offense for Tom Brady to work with right now, but I think this weakness will dissipate soon. There's been a lot of confusion and overturn at the position, due to injury, but once the members of the line settle into their groove, coach Dante Scarnecchia will be able to turn them into greatness again. I fully believe in Scar.
Although, with Stephen Gostkowski placed on the injured reserve with a season-ending hip injury, kicking could become an even bigger problem than it already was.
Where to Next: The easy Patriots schedule continues with October games against Washington, the New York Giants, the New York Jets, and the Cleveland Browns. The Browns and Giants games will be at home for New England and with how "clicking on all cylinders" this team is right now, I fully expect to check in on an 8-0 team when November rolls around.
Image via Flickr / Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism