By DJ Harding –
In a season where we have watched the Patriots fall apart in back to back games. Week 15 versus the Raiders what everyone presumed was going to be an overtime game ended tragically with a crazy Jakobi Myers lateral in Vegas on the final play which was originally a Rhamondre Stevenson handoff until he lateraled to Myers who then flung it back to Mac Jones but Myers threw it to the wrong Jones as Raiders Linebacker Chandler Jones intercepted the lateral stiff armed Mac Jones and ran it in for a game winning Touchdown.
Then in week 16 playing back in Foxboro versus the Cincinnati Bengals quickly became a Joe Burrow show which had the leading 22-0 in the 3rd quarter until Marcus Jones intercepted Joe Burrow and took it to the house for 6 putting himself in the history books being the second player in super bowl history to have 40+ yard scores in all three phases of the ball and sparking a Patriots comeback getting the score within 4 point on the final drive Rhamondre Stevenson found himself in a key moment again but instead on a lateral which led to a loss he fumbled giving Cincinnati in a win.
Despite our recent woes there is still a chance to make the playoffs. Although it is 18% of a chance there is still a chance to make it.
The Patriots can get to the playoffs by winning in these final 2 games.
The Dolphins also need this win because if the Jets lose the Dolphins will have a ticket booked on Playoff Airlines and when looking back to week 1 this season the Dolphins already won the first matchup of the season.
What is working in the patriots favor to win is the possible absence of Tua Tagovailoa whose issues with concussions continue as he has been listed on the injury report all week and the Dolphins are preparing Teddy Bridewater for the start. Miami has the 5th ranked offense in the league but possibly losing their star quarterback may bring that offense down a notch and New England has the 8th ranked defense. This defense has had a good season despite what NEw England’s record says leading the league in defensive touchdowns in 2022 with 6 closing in on team history only being one shy of the team record which is tied between 2001 and 2003. On top of that the one punt return this season (a Marcus Jones game winner versus the Jets in week 11) they lead the league in non offensive touchdowns being 2 shy of the 2010 patriots which had a team record nine non offensive touchdowns. Another stat showing how good this defense has been is in the pass rush with Matthew Judon being 2nd (15.5) and Josh Uche 11th (11.5) in most sacks this season as a team the Patriots have 50 which is 1st in the AFC and 2nd in the NFL behind the first place Eagles.
For those of you wondering how the offense is, let’s say this isn’t 2007 with Tom Brady and Randy Moss breaking records as this offense is ranked 24th. Which is in the bottom half of the league. But some good news on the offensive side of the ball Rhamondre Stevenson is only 56 yards away from 1,000 which would make him the first running back to hit that mark in a season since Legarrette Blount did it in 2016. Stevenson among running backs is also 4th in receptions (62) and 7th in receiving yards (384). Those 62 receptions are also leading the entire team in receptions on pace to be the 8th running back in history to lead the team in receptions and the 9th time it has happened due to Tony Collins doing it twice (1985,1987). Stevenson is also on pace for 70 receptions in a season which would be the 4th most by a running back in a season which would be trailing James White (87,72) and Tony Collins (77).
On the Special Teams side of the ball look out for Matthew Slater who needs one more special teams tackle to reach 10 special teams tackles for the 11th time in his career and is 3rd all time in special team tackles (168) behind Larry Izzo (205) and Kieth Burns (197).
One last thing to look out for is Kyle Dugger who in these last 2 games needs one more defensive touchdown to become the first player to have 3 defensive touchdowns since 1970. Along with Devin McCourty who will tie Stephen Gostowski Sunday for the 5th most games played in team history with 205. McCourty (34 interceptions) is also 2 interceptions away from tying the most in team history currently held by Ty Law and Raymond Clayborn with 36 interceptions. One last piece of history for McCourty with the Fumble Recovery last Sunday vs Cincinnati became the 4th player ever to have 40 Takeaways (34 Ints, 6 FR).
With a lot to lookout for and different patriots closing in on team history the Pats go play at home in Foxborough in a do or die scenario we look to Sunday at 1 pm (EST) on CBS to see, if what has been a rocky season with struggles on all sides of the ball can have a beautiful ending with the New England Patriots somehow in the playoffs.