New England Patriots: 4 super bold predictions for 2021 NFL season

FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 12: Members of the New England Patriots offense
FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 12: Members of the New England Patriots offense /
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New England Patriots
The New England Patriots defense must win the battle in the trenches. /

1st Down: New England Patriots stopping the run will determine the defense’s success

Recently, the secondary was the strength of the defense. And it served the team well, as they won Super Bowls LI and LIII.

But last year, opponents didn’t have to air it out. New England led the league in fewest opponents’ pass attempts because there was little resistance on the ground.

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The NFL is a passing league, yet opponents ran the ball 464 times, compared to 494 pass attempts. To put that in perspective, New England was the only defense that faced less than 500 pass attempts. Only the Dallas Cowboys (3), and Jacksonville Jaguars (16) had smaller differences between pass and run attempts (30) than the Patriots had.

The results were gruesome. Opponents gained more than 100 yards eleven times. Five times they gained more than 150 yards. Four times they exceeded 180 yards. Three times opponents had more rushing yards than passing yards.

The 4.5 yards per attempt allowed was 20th in the NFL. The 2,103 rushing yards allowed was 26th. Weekly opposing backfields were known as The Ghetto Boys because they couldn’t be stopped.

For the Patriots to have any chance of having a winning record, they can’t let the opponents run wild week after week. They have the personnel to do just that now.

Hightower was sorely missed in 2020. He opted out of the 2020 season to protect his newborn son and family. Thankfully Hightower is back to set the tone. He is getting protection as well, as Godchaux (Dolphins) and Henry Anderson (Jets) were free agent additions from division rivals.

Barmore was New England’s second round draft selection. The way he took over the National Championship game in the second half should have you excited about what Barmore can bring to the Patriots.

Add them to Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise Jr. and the revamped front seven has what it needs to fix the porous run defense and create the opportunity for a defensive achievement that hasn’t happened in six years…