With the first half of the 2019 regular season in the books, who have been the standouts for the New England Patriots on defense so far?
Trying to narrow down and select just three individual players as MVPs on this New England Patriots defense is almost as difficult as it must be for opposing offenses to try and score against this defense.
Consider the following:
- The Patriots defense has allowed four total touchdowns this season
- The Patriots defense has scored four total touchdowns this season
- The Patriots as a team have allowed a league-low 61 points to be scored on them this year
- Of those 61 points, 21 were scored against either the Patriots offense or special teams (34%)
- The Patriots D is allowing offenses to convert third down just 16% of the time (best in NFL)
- The Patriots have defended 69 passes so far… 17 more than the second-best team (Vikings)
- The Patriots are No. 1 in sacks this year (31.0)
- The Patriots are No. 1 in interceptions this year (19)
Add it all up and it’s easy to understand why the Pats are 8-0 for the third time in the history of their franchise. The first time it happened, New England finished 18-1 and lost the Super Bowl to the Giants in 2007. On the second occasion, New England finished 12-4 and beat the Chiefs in the Divisional round, only to lose to the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos in the AFC Championship Game in 2015.
What will happen the third time around in 2019?
According to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell and the media giant’s “Football Power Index,” the Patriots have a better chance of finishing this season 16-0 (9.3%) than they do of failing to earn the No. 1 seed in the conference and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs (7.5%).
That’s an incredible stat to digest. Put another way, as unlikely as it is that these Patriots manage to go undefeated against a tough remaining schedule, it’s even more unlikely that they ultimately finish lower than the top seed in the conference.
To be fair, that 7.5% has as much to do with the Patriots’ undefeated record and overall strength this year as it does the shortcomings of their closest competitors in the AFC. The Bills, Ravens, and Colts each have two losses already, the Texans and the Chiefs each have three, and everyone else in the conference has four or more.
Home-field advantage is obviously important for any team in the postseason, but it looms especially large when considering the New England Patriots and their record both home and away in the playoffs since the arrival of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. On the road, the Brady/Belichick Pats are 4-4 in the postseason; at home, the tandem is an unbelievable 20-3. In fact, the Patriots haven’t lost a home playoff game in over six years.
Granted, it was just last year that New England went on the road and won a playoff game in a hostile environment, defeating the Chiefs at Arrowhead in the AFC Championship. Still, the team would undoubtedly prefer the easiest path possible to making their fourth straight Super Bowl appearance, and that path definitely runs through Foxborough and includes a first-round bye.
But enough on the playoffs and the future… let’s take a moment to appreciate the greatness we all were fortunate enough to just witness through the first half of the 2019 regular season.
This New England Patriots defense was nothing short of historic through eight games, and the following three players deserve extra recognition as MVPs so far. Each could have a case for NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors, as well, if they continue their scorching starts to the season.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, Jonathan Jones