The New England Patriots currently rank 12th in points allowed per game, which represents an incredible turnaround from their 31st ranking after four games. From week 5 onward, the Patriots rank second in the NFL in points allowed per game, behind only a Jacksonville Jaguars squad that was fortunate to play two of their games against the hapless Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns.
So the Patriots have been playing extremely in recent weeks and they’ve climbed the ranking of points allowed which, as head coach Bill Belichick would say, is how the games are played. The Patriots still rank 32nd in yards allowed, but if teams move the ball and fail to put up points, then New England will be okay with the results.
But how can the Patriots keep moving up the leaderboard? Well, there’s a pretty good chance that they could be ranked in the top 10 by the end of week 12. Here are the games of note, including the defensive rankings of the important teams.
Dolphins at Patriots (12th, 203 points allowed)
In order to move up the list, the Patriots need to take care of business against the Dolphins and that probably won’t be too difficult of an order. The Dolphins rank 31st in the NFL in points scored per drive and the Patriots should be able to extend their streak of holding opponents to 17 or fewer points.
This could be a big game for New England to climb up the rankings since the Saints (2nd) and Rams (4th) are two of the best offenses in the NFL in points per drive. If this game is a high-scoring affair, it could be what the Patriots need.
New England has to allow 7 fewer points than the Saints and 17 fewer points than the Rams. A game in the high-20s could do the trick.
This Thanksgiving match-up could also help the Patriots, who need to allow 7 fewer points than the Chargers this week. Dallas ranks 6th in the NFL in points scored per drive and Los Angeles will have a short week to prepare, creating a perfect opportunity for the Cowboys to rack up some points.
A big question for the Seahawks is whether Jimmy Garoppolo starts or not for the 49ers. If Garoppolo starts, then maybe the 49ers can score 4 more points on the Seahawks than the Dolphins score on the Patriots. But this is a longshot game for the Patriots to climb the rankings.
Browns at Bengals (t-10, 199)
This is another longshot game since the Browns are the one offense more inept than the Dolphins. Can Cleveland score 4 more points than the Dolphins? I wouldn’t bet on it.
The Patriots must stay ahead of the Bears, but the high-flying Eagles offense should make short work of the Chicago defense. Is there a chance that the Bears could score 15 more points than the Dolphins on Sunday so New England can pass Philadelphia? I certainly wouldn’t count on it.
Buccaneers at Falcons (13th, 210)
The Patriots need to stay ahead of the Falcons and there’s a good chance that the Dolphins won’t outscore the Buccaneers by more than 7 points.
The same logic applies; will the Dolphins outscore the Bills by more than 17? I doubt it.
If everything goes in the Patriots direction this week, then there’s a very possible chance that they could pass the Rams, Saints, and Chargers and take the 9th spot in the defensive rankings and an outside chance they can also pass the Seahawks and Bengals to move into 7th.
While I don’t see all of the footballs bouncing in the Patriots direction over the next week, the odds are pretty good that at least two of those teams will play out to New England’s benefit and that would be enough for Bill Belichick’s defense to rank in the top 10 of points allowed for the 2017 season.