The New England Patriots have their work cut out for them over the final six weeks of the season.
The Patriots are 7-3 and fighting a battle on a slight incline to try to earn a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers and, to a lesser degree, the Los Angeles Chargers and Houston Texans.
Here’s the team they’ll be working with. Let’s look at their post-bye week depth chart.
Honest question: Would fickle Patriots fans be calling for Brady’s job after last Sunday’s performance if Jimmy Garoppolo was still on the team? The answer should be no but is probably yes.
Rex Burkhead (IR)
The Patriots will go one more week with depleted running back depth until Burkhead can return in time for Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings. When Burkhead comes back, he’ll cut into Michel’s carries, but we still expect the rookie to be the primary bell-cow runner.
Burkhead could also take some catches away from White on early downs. White should be the guy on third down, however.
He’s on an island here. It’s a gritty island. Lunchpail Island.
Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon
Edelman and Gordon are wide receivers Nos. 1a and 1b on the Patriots. Hogan has been the No. 3 since Edelman returned and Gordon emerged. It’s possible Dorsett could start eating into Hogan’s snaps, however.
LT Trent Brown, LG Joe Thuney, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, RT Marcus Cannon
iOL Ted Karras, OT LaAdrian Waddle
iOL James Ferentz
OT Matt Tobin
Karras and Waddle have been solid backups so far this season. Mason missed two games with a calf injury. We’ll see if he can return in Week 12.
Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise
Wise has started the Patriots’ last three games.
And yes, Davis does appear to be above Clayborn on the depth chart right now. Davis has played more snaps than Clayborn in every one of the Patriots’ last three games.
Lawrence Guy, Malcom Brown
Shelton has taken a backseat to Guy and Brown in recent weeks. Butler is simply the Patriots’ sub interior rusher.
Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy
The Patriots have added McClellan and Humber in recent weeks. They replace Nicholas Grigsby on the Patriots’ linebacker depth chart. McClellan and Humber are older and slower than Grigsby, but they’re better suited to play defense with more NFL experience.
Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty
We’ll put Dawson last on the Patriots’ cornerback depth chart for now, but don’t be surprised if he starts to eat into Jones’ slot snaps.
Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung
Melifonwu signed a two-year deal, and we wouldn’t be surprised if doesn’t receive significant defensive reps until 2019, if ever. He’s a massive presence at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, but he has just 34 NFL defensive snaps to his name.
K Stephen Gostkowski, P Ryan Allen, LS Joe Cardona
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images