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Patriots Progress Report Fourth Quarter (2013)

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Patriots Progress Report Patriots Progress Report

The months-long grind of the NFL regular season has come to an end. And the New England Patriots have closed it out with yet another strong month. By winning three of their last four, the Patriots once again took the AFC East division title; they also ensured themselves the second seed in the playoffs, guaranteeing at least one home game this postseason.

It wasn't always pretty they led off the season's final quarter with a squeaked-out victory over the relatively hapless Cleveland Brownsa victory in which they benefited greatly from some generosity on the part of the officials. They followed that up with a narrow defeat at the hands of division rival Miami. However, New England was strong down the home stretch, with a blowout win over the Ravens followed by a two-touchdown victory over the Buffalo Bills in the final game of the regular season.

There's no denying that this is a flawed, injury-riddled team. Still, they can stand tall on the strength of a 12-4 season. As to what happens next? Only time will tell.

On to the Progress Report.

Offense B+

The last month of the season certainly exposed some holes in the vaunted Patriots offense. Tom Brady is clearly not the world-beating quarterback he once was; New England fans must now settle for having merely one of the league's best under center as opposed to the best. Brady passed for an average of roughly 275 yards per game over these four games, though he didn't even total 300 in the last two. However, running backs LeGarrette Blount and Shane Vereen have greatly stepped up their production, while receiver Julian Edelman caught 35 balls over that span. The offense hasn't looked great, but they've still averaged over 30 points per game in the past month.

Defense B

This unit as a whole has generally defined the concept of good enough over the past month. There hasn't been much in the way of spectacular play, but they've kept the team in every game. Considering the massive attrition the defense has suffered across the board, that's actually pretty impressive guys like Rob Ninkovich (who has been kind of a beast), Aqib Talib and Chandler Jones have stepped up their games. Again, with the exception of the Baltimore game, there haven't been any outright impressive performances from this side of the ball, but they've been good enough to win three out of four.

Special Teams A

This might be a bit generous, but there have been some real standouts when it comes to special teams over the past few weeks. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski has been the best kicker not named Justin Tucker in the NFL this year he was 10 for 11 in field goals over the past four games. Young punter Ryan Allen has been a major key to New England's field position success while his average of just over 46 yards per punt is just so-so, more than half have wound up inside his opponents' 20. As far as returning, Edelman has been decent and consistent on punts, while Blount has shown some flashes of excellence.

Coaching A

Ho-hum. Another season, another dozen wins; one almost wonders if Bill Belichick is getting bored with how easy this whole NFL coaching thing has become. In all seriousness, there have been occasional moments of seeming vulnerability when it comes to Belichick's schemes, but for the most part, he continues to coax overachievement out of this team. They have overcome a lot of issues both on and off the field; a lot of the credit has to be laid at the coach's feet.

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