Well, 8 games up and 8 more to go before playoff time, so I thought I'd grade the Pats on their performances thus far. We'll start with Mr. MVP himself, Tom Brady.
QB: Tom Brady; 209-320/ 65.3% comp/ 2408 passing yards/ 16-3 TD-INT/ 100.6 QB rating
Under Tom Brady, the New England Patriots hold the league's best offense in terms in of scoring, yards and rank fifth in passing yards. Without a doubt, Tom Brady is having a career year with only two bad games to show for it (Baltimore and Seattle). As long as he laces up on Sunday, the New England Patriots know they have a shot at winning the game. As the team MVP and the reason for the Patriots 5-3 record, Tom Brady is still one of the best QBs to ever play the game.
RB: The Patriots rush for a whopping 145.9 yards per game at a rate of 4.3 yards per. They rank 5th in the league.
Stevan Ridley: 150 carries/ 714 yards/ 4.8 YPC/ 5 TDs
Whether it is the passing offence that dictates why the Pats have ran so well or not, they've impressed. I knew the Stevan Ridley was ready to emerge this season after he wowed me last season with his dynamic runs, but how fortunate are the Patriots that they've had all four of their RBs play at such a high level? The emergence of Brandon Bolden's powerful Corey Dillon-esque running style mixed Ridley's LaDanian Tomlinson (in his prime) style running has given the New England Patriots a 1-2 combo unlike any other. Shane Vereen's has made an appearance, though not as much as Bolden and Ridley, and figures to find more playing time in the second half with Bolden nursing a knee injury has also been a blessing. Last but not least, Daniel Woodhead''s ability to catch the ball and break off long runs on 3rd and longs has also helped the Patriots when they needed it the most. All in all, the Patriots running backs have been all the Patriots wanted and then some.
WR/TE: Most notably; Wes Welker: 60 receptions/736 yards/ 378 YAC/ 2TDs
Aside from QB, this figured to be New England's strength going into the season, even after cutting both Deion Branch and Jabar Gaffney. The position was filled with controversy to start the season with Wes Welker receiving less playing time and Julian Edelman gaining more. Welker saw more playing time as both Julian Edelman and Aaron Hernandez went down with injuries and the slot machine picked off right where he left off. Wes Welker has commanded a huge contract with his play so far this season, the Patriots might not be willing to pay it, but some other team will. Aside from Welker, The Incredible Gronk has not had the season he had last year while nursing a hip injury, but that's only because Gronk had a season to end all season for TEs last season. Also adding to the season has been Brandon Lloyd, the man who draws the opposing team's best CB and is forced to man up. Lloyd may not be what Patriots' fans wanted, but he's been nothing but cash in the first half of the season. As he spends more time with Tommy, his targets, TDs and production should go nowhere but up as the season progresses.
OL: 14 sacks allowed which is ranked 8th in the NFL and blocking for 4.5 yards per carry.
The OL was horrendous in the preseason, but it got much better as the season started. Chuck this up as another win for Coach Scar as he's worked an OL out of, seemingly, trash and made it a top flight unit. The Patriots OL has had to replace two of their OL men and hasn't missed a beat. As usual, the Patriots OL is much better as a pass blocking unit than as a run blocking one where they rank 20th in power blocking. If it weren't for the talent we have at RB, the running game would not be very effective for the Patriots, but it is what it is. Nate Solder has emerged well as a run blocker and Ryan Wendell has stepped up and played well at Center, but they'll need to fare better against the elite rushes as the Cards and Ravens were able to dominate them at the point of attack and harass TFB to our three losses this season.
Grade: Pass blocking = A-/ Run blocking = C = final grade = B-