Why Damien Harris can carry New England Patriots on a deep playoff run

New England Patriots (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
New England Patriots (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

Can Damien Harris and the New England Patriots rushing attack lead the team to a deep playoff run?

The Patriots proved it in 2018.  A good, discipline defense and a power running game can lead a team to a Super Bowl victory in the modern NFL.  No, Tom Brady is not walking through that door, but the team has a similar formula to success in 2021.

If we look back to that 2018 NFL season, Brady and the Patriots’ offense struggled passing the ball. Julian Edelman was Julian Edelman, but Rob Gronkowski pretty much morphed into a run-blocking tight end.  As the team struggled in December, very much lie this version of the Patriots, the team changed its strategy going into the playoffs.

Not only did Bill Belichick turn back the clock and depend on his defense, but he also lined up and punched the other team in the mouth with the run game.

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Behind Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead, the New England Patriots bullied their way through the Los Angeles (San Diego) Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs in route to a Super Bowl victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

Damien Harris can be that man for the New England Patriots

While any Super Bowl run has been dampened a bit by the team’s play the last couple weeks, a similar formula can remedy the New England Patriots to a deep playoff run led by Harris who is putting some respect on his name by rushing his way to the top as an NFL running back.

Soaring up the NFL.com running back index, analyst and former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew is recognizing that Damien Harris can carry the Patriots’ offense, especially if he has the kind of performance he had against the Buffalo Bills in the team’s loss last Sunday:

"“While Mac Jones and the Patriots’ defense struggled last week against the Bills, Harris had one of the best outings of his career, rushing for 103 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. The effort marked his fifth game this season with at least 100 rush yards (tied for second in the NFL). The Pats have an opportunity to get right and end their two-game skid Sunday vs. the Jags, who rank 24th against the run. Harris could have another notable outing.”"

Along with rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson, Harris and the New England Patriots ground attack will be called on to take some pressure off Mac Jones as all their backs can run the ball between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield.

That versatility could lead to the identity the Patriots’ offense needs to both clinch a playoff berth and become a dangerous team in those playoffs.

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Obvious, the defense will have to get its act together against the run, but offensively, a healthy Harris and Stevenson can more than duplicate what Michel did back in 2018.  Although the quarterback is a rookie instead of the man known as the GOAT, this version of the Patriots has a similar offensive line, fullback and two-tight end set to be just as physical.

The running backs, led by Harris, are arguably more talented and physical and very capable of making some noise in the postseason.