Yes, Patriots are still Super Bowl favorites after beating Eagles

New England Patriots

After looking vulnerable in their Week 9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson, the New England Patriots got back on track by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 17-10.

It came down to a final Hail Mary from Carson Wentz in the cold Philadelphia air, but the New England Patriots were able to win their ninth game of the 2019 season, defeating the Eagles 17-10 in what was an uglier game than expected.

However, the Patriots are happy to win ugly, because all they care about is notching more victories. After losing Rob Gronkowski to retirement and parting ways with Josh Gordon, the Patriots don’t really have any dynamic weapons on offense, so chain-moving passes to Julian Edelman and clock-chewing runs from Sony Michel have become their staple.

The Patriots are turning back the clock to over a decade ago when they won Super Bowls on the strength of their defense. This same defense showed some holes two weeks ago when the Pats lost their first game of the season, but after suffocating Miles Sanders and shutting down Carson Wentz’s throwing lanes in Week 11, the Patriots showed their loss to the Ravens was more about Lamar Jackson’s greatness than any real defensive shortcomings.

At 9-1, the Patriots are still the best team in the AFC by record, even if their superiority over the Ravens is entirely up for debate following their previous encounter. There’s no guarantee those two meet in the postseason, and, beyond that, the Patriots are a great team with a defense that can go against anybody.

Against Philadelphia, the Patriots held the opposition to only 5.5 yards per pass attempt and under four yards per carry on the ground. They sacked Wentz five times, hit him 12 times in total, and recorded eight passes defended despite not holding onto any of those for interceptions.

In short, the Patriots pass defense was elite, which is a distinction they’ve held all season long aside from one game against the otherworldly Jackson. The defending champions remain the Super Bowl favorites until decisively proven otherwise.

New England has now shifted into the more difficult second half of its 2019 schedule, as their next three games will be against the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, and Kansas City Chiefs. All three of those teams have Super Bowl aspirations and an MVP-caliber quarterback, meaning the Pats will be tested defensively like they were by Jackson; Wentz’s accuracy issues were admittedly on full display this week.

But if the Patriots can emerge from their upcoming stretch of three games relatively unscathed, they’ll have a breezy end to the 2019 season that includes games against two No. 1 overall pick contenders in the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins.

Next: It’s time for Carolina to fire Ron Rivera

The Patriots are in the driver’s seat in the AFC after winning a game against an old Super Bowl foe, but because they only won by seven points against an offense that hurt itself with poor passes, fans in Foxboro need to watch their next three games intently.

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