Both the 2017 regular season and league year are coming to a close, and the New England Patriots celebrated with a big win. The Pats beat their AFC East rival New York Jets by a final score of 26-6. Here are the Week 17 New England Patriots takeaways.
Week 17 New England Patriots Takeaways
The Road to the Super Bowl Goes Through New England
This was far and away the most important thing for New England heading into the week. Thanks to their win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, a Week 17 win would grant the Patriots home field advantage throughout the playoffs. This is huge for New England, as Bill Belichick and the Patriots are notoriously difficult to beat at Gillette Stadium in the postseason. Since Tom Brady took over at quarterback, the Patriots are an absurd 17-3 in the playoffs at home. With stiff competition in the AFC playoff field, home field could be the difference between a seat on the couch or an eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and Belichick.
Dion Lewis Can Carry the Offense
Entering the season, Dion Lewis was the fourth running back on the Patriots depth chart. Fast forward to the Week 17, and it’s impossible to envision this offense without him. New England’s offense struggled out of the gate, and turned to Lewis to bring the team to life. Lewis answered the call, finishing his night with 93 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Additionally, Lewis added an extra 40 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. Lewis is absolutely on fire heading into the playoffs, and should give the Patriots the best running game they’ve had down the stretch since Corey Dillon in 2004.
James Harrison Will Be a Big Part of This Defense
After feeling underappreciated and underutilized with the Steelers, James Harrison asked out of Pittsburgh. After one game, it appears as though the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year will enjoy his new home. Harrison played early and often, being used to set the edge, drop into coverage, and rush the passer. Not only did he play, he played well. Harrison finished his day with five tackles and two sacks, showing he still has a lot left in the tank. Perhaps most impressively, one of his tackles came in the open field against wide receiver Robby Anderson. That’s not an easy tackle to make against a speedster like Anderson, especially for a 39-year-old.
Early in the game, it looked like Harrison would mostly see the field as a run defender, as the Patriots have struggled setting the edge all season. However, when New York fell behind and had to throw every down, Harrison showed he can still rush the passer. Harrison ended the game with two impressive back-to-back sacks. On the first one, he knocked the ball loose, forcing a fumble from Jets quarterback Bryce Petty. On the second one, New York put a double team block on him, but still couldn’t contain Harrison. If this Harrison is the one that shows up for the playoff run, then the Patriots got a major steal from their top AFC competition.
The Patriots 2017 regular season is officially in the books. By all measures, it was a successful one, as the team finished 13-3 with the number one seed heading into the playoffs. New England will take a much deserved week off before playing the lowest remaining seed in the AFC Divisional Round.