The New England Patriots' perfect season was derailed by the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9, as the six-time Super Bowl champions lost, 37-20. While this team is undoubtedly still among the league's elite, the loss did reveal some holes New England might need to fix in order to win its seventh Super Bowl.
With that in mind, here are three keys to the Patriots winning Super Bowl LIV.
1. Improve Offensive Line Play
Last year, New England's postseason run was won in the trenches. In three playoff games, Tom Brady was only sacked once, and Sony Michel dominated opposing defenses, averaging 4.73 yards per carry on 71 attempts. With Trent Brown now on the Oakland Raiders, and his replacement Isaiah Wynn sidelined for much of the year, Brady has been sacked 12 times across his last five games, and Michel is averaging a paltry 3.3 yards per rush. Wynn is eligible to return next week against the Dallas Cowboys, and the Patriots will need him to shore up the line in order to make a genuine postseason run. It's a lot to ask of someone who has played two regular-season NFL games, but New England doesn't have many viable alternatives on the roster.
2. Run Defense
This defense has gotten off to a historic start, allowing a league-best 10.9 points per game (PPG), but the run defense has quietly fallen off lately. New England has surrendered 5.3 yards per carry to RBs over the past five weeks, which is the third-highest mark in the NFL during that span. Baltimore exploited this in Week 9, tallying 210 rushing yards on 41 attempts. The remarkably deep secondary is this defense's strength, but if the Patriots can't stop the run they may have to start relying on heavier personnel packages, which could make this unit a lot less dynamic.
3. Improved Wide Receiver Play
The Patriots paid a hefty price to acquire Mohamed Sanu (2020 second-round pick), so it's clear they've prioritized improving the position. The early returns have been positive, with Sanu catching 10 passes on 14 targets in Week 9 against Baltimore, but there's a long way to go. Sanu, along with rookie wideout N'Keal Harry, will have to quickly integrate themselves into New England's notoriously complex offense in order for this team to reach its potential. If Sanu and Harry can play well enough to take defensive attention away from Julian Edelman, this offense could be tough to stop come January.
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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.