Dominant defense has fueled the New England Patriots’ surge toward the top of the AFC standings.
But their offense hasn’t been too shabby, either.
In fact, some statistics, both conventional and advanced, suggest the Patriots have fielded the best offense in the NFL over the course of their current five-game winning streak.
Since kicking off that run with a 54-13 dismantling of the New York Jets in Week 7, New England leads the league in points scored (175), points per game (35.0) and point differential (plus-125; the second-place Indianapolis Colts are plus-56).
Sure, those marks were skewed by blowout wins over the Jets and Cleveland Browns (45-7), and by the fact the Patriots have scored three defensive touchdowns in their last four games. But their offense also grades out remarkably well on a per-play basis.
The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin tracks expected points added and success rate — stats that measure how a team improves or decreases its scoring chances and how it performs in relation to the first-down marker, respectively — at the analytics site rbsdm.com. Here’s where the Patriots rank in those metrics since Week 7:
Success rate: first
EPA per dropback: first
Dropback success rate: sixth
EPA per rush: third
Rush success rate: third
Those numbers paint the picture of an efficient, balanced offense that can move the ball both on the ground and through the air. The Patriots have been tilted more toward the former — this is a run-first team that wants to bully opposing defenses with heavy personnel packages — but they also lead the league in passer rating over the past five weeks (111.0), combining the stat lines of rookie starter Mac Jones and veteran backup Brian Hoyer.
New England’s offense has lacked its defense’s consistency, however.
The Patriots have scored just one offensive touchdown in two of their last five wins (Los Angeles Chargers and Atlanta Falcons), settling for four Nick Folk field goals in each. Jones also slogged through two less-than-stellar performances (Chargers and Carolina Panthers) before rebounding with a career-best outing against the Browns. This still isn’t a team you’d trust to win a high-scoring shootout (though it came close against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6).
The Patriots’ engine is and will continue to be their ball-hawking defense — a unit that leads the league in points allowed (16.1 per game) and interceptions (18) this season. But their offense isn’t just a passenger.
At 7-4, the Patriots lead the AFC East and sit just one game back of the Tennessee Titans for first place in the AFC. They’ll host the Titans at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.