Feeling better this week?
The crowd at our house was all dialed-in on Sunday. Felt like the Pats would win, should win. But that didn’t stop that kinda-queasy feeling early in the last quarter when New England couldn’t put points on the board. The counter to that was watching the defense hamper anything Pittsburgh tried to do after the Steelers’ early fourth-quarter score and two-point conversion. The Pats having the lead and control of the football for the final 6:33 min. of the game was glorious. Felt familiar. That’s the Patriots style of play we know and love. That’s what the team can build on going forward.
The raise in rankings reflected both the win and the raise in play. 0-2 doesn’t buy any team any love. Quite a few of the analysts are still in wait-and-see mode, as are quite a few Pats fans. I’m optimistic. The issues facing New England are workable, and I believe there is enough talent on both sides of the ball to stack up wins. As usual, it comes down to coaching and execution.
The New England Patriots welcome the Baltimore Ravens this week at their 2022 Gillette Stadium home opener. I predict they’ll manage to corral QB Lamar Jackson and take advantage of a defense that looked gassed at the end of the game.
Around the AFC East:
10th - Mark Lane (TouchdownWire): The Patriots were able to bounce back from a tough loss to an AFC East foe with a victory over the Steelers. Receiver Nelson Agholor came alive with six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. As long as the Patriots defense can drag teams down to Jones’ talent level, New England ought to have a chance in every ballgame. [+3]
13th - Nate Davis (USA Today): The last time they started 0-2, Drew Bledsoe was still the starting quarterback. But if Baltimore drops New England to 1-2, that would be two in a row under QB Mac Jones and three in the past five seasons. [+4]
14th - Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk): It wasn’t pretty. Most of their wins this year probably won’t be. [+6]
14th - Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): The offense still isn’t clicking, but it did enough against the Steelers thanks to a good defensive showing. There was progress from Week 1. [+8]
14th - Josh Schrock (NBC Sports Chicago): Gunner Olszewski said he wanted to make his old team remember him. Instead, his special teams blunder ended up handing New England a much-needed win in Pittsburgh. Bill Belichick appreciates the gesture, Gunner. [+10]
14th - Ryan Gaydos (Fox News). [+16] /This guy ranked the Pats 30th last week.
15th - Ryan Dunleavy (NY Post). [+11]
15th - Dalton Miller (ProFootballNetwork): Tier 4 “Wait and see” category. The Patriots’ passing attack is devastating to watch. Mac Jones found a bit of fire with Nelson Agholor in Week 2, but it really looks like the only receiving option he truly trusts is Jakobi Meyers. The rushing attack still looks like it can be efficient, but they must find a way to find more consistent chunk yards. We know New England will be well coached on the defensive side of the ball. They don’t field a ton of talent at cornerback, but the safety play is outstanding, and they have strong downhill run defenders at linebacker. [+6]
15th - Trevor Land (FlurrySports). [+8]
16th - NFL Nation (ESPN): Biggest early adjustment: Spread the snap wealth at receiver. The Patriots are going five deep at receiver, with DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Kendrick Bourne, but Parker has played the second-highest total of snaps. Despite that high volume, he has just one catch on the season as the 50-50 balls that were prevalent in training camp haven’t shown up in games. Spreading around some of his playing time to others makes sense — and maybe less will be more with Parker, especially in the red zone. [+5]
16th - Conor Orr (SI): The Patriots aren’t doing anything particularly well right now and are still in the thick of it. Can Mac Jones master the mundane and make this offense run more efficiently? [+2]
17th - Consensus (Bleacher Report): After a dispiriting offensive performance in Miami in Week 1, the New England Patriots desperately needed to get the offense back on track in Week 2. The Pats didn’t light the world on fire against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but there were improvements. Mac Jones wasn’t flawless, but he threw for 252 yards and a score. Running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson combined for 118 yards on 24 carries. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor had a big game, catching six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots defense held up their end as well, allowing just 243 yards of offense, forcing a pair of turnovers and sacking Mitchell Trubisky three times; ...More. [+4]
18th - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots don’t get many style points for grinding out the victory in Pittsburgh with a good dose of the running game and active front seven defense. But it’s a reminder that Belichick and his coaching staff are capable of making some solid winning adjustments just when they’re counted out to do so. [+5]
18th - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): Mac Jones’ 44-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor was a thing of beauty for a Patriots team that struggled enough during the summer and in Week 1 to make you wonder if they even had an explosive play in their bones. It’s proof of progress for the Belichicks, who managed two more scores (one greatly aided by a Steelers special teams gaffe) in a 17-14 win over the similarly offensively challenged Steelers at the Stadium Formerly Known As Heinz Field. Bonus points to an offensive line that bullied Pittsburgh’s front in the game’s final minutes and allowed the Pats to run out the clock on their first win. “We’re building an identity,” said defensive back Devin McCourty. “To come to Pittsburgh and gut out a win, you start to build who you are.” [+5]
19th - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): DeVante Parker has one catch for nine yards through two games. That probably isn’t what the team had in mind when it traded for Parker this offseason. Parker has never been known for his consistency, but his quiet start probably says more about a poor Patriots offense than him. [nc]
19th - Bryan Fischer (Athlon Sports): Not the prettiest of wins but the team will take it after the heat they’ve been feeling externally the past few weeks. Still, no let up going forward looking ahead at that schedule. [+8]
20th - Austin Gayle (The Ringer): “On the Bubble” category. Spotlight: Patriots offense lacks weapons and creativity. /Includes three looong paragraphs explaining why. [+1]
20th - Staff (The Score): First-round rookie Cole Strange looks like a solid addition to the offensive line, but there aren’t many newcomers to choose from here. Perhaps returning so much of last year’s mediocre roster is part of the problem in New England. [+8]
22nd - Matt Johnson (SportsNaut): It’s a slight climb up the NFL power rankings for the New England Patriots, but it is temporary. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense is one of the worst in the AFC and its defense lacked any viability without T.J. Watt. A win is still a win, but three losses in a row could be looming with the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions on deck. [+4]
AVG RANK: 16.3 [+5.9]