The NFL's decision to add a 17th game to the schedule has changed the landscape of many aspects of the season, the least important of which is the ability to identify the midway point. It's this time of year when we like to take a step back to identify what went right and where the problems are as teams embark on the second half of their seasons.
The Patriots sit at 5-4 but still have eight games remaining. So, while we are officially slightly beyond the halfway mark, this is a great time to take stock of how things have gone thus far.
Here's a look at the best of the first half (more or less):
The Patriots highest-priced free agent ticket has paid dividends thus far. Judon has been the team's best player in virtually every game and he leads the Patriots and is tied for second in the league with 9 sacks, and his constant pressure (16 quarterback hits) has allowed the secondary to clamp down on opposing passing games.
The Patriots have relied on the running game most weeks and Harris has led the way. He topped the 100-yard mark three times and leads the team with 547 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. When the Patriots have needed the tough yards, Harris has generally gotten them.
Judon's impact has been felt all over the defense, whether it's been setting the edge against the run, providing pressure as we mentioned or showing leadership on and off the field.
This was a tough call between Jones and his college teammate, second-round pick Christian Barmore. Barmore has been immense of late but Jones has been a steady presence all season long. He's been remarkably consistent at the game's most difficult position and he's earned the respect of his teammates.
Most Important Player
To call Folk the MVP would be a bit of a stretch, but no one has been more important to the team's success. He's 21-for-23 on field goals, and a couple of other misses at the wrong time would have jeopardized wins over Houston and L.A.
Harris TD run at Jets
Harris grounded more Jets than COVID, breaking at least seven tackles on his scintillating 26-yard touchdown run in Week 2.
Jamie Collins' pick at Carolina
Standing about 5 yards in front of Sam Darnold, Collins once again showed his immense athleticism by leaping in the air to intercept a pass deep in Panthers territory.
Kendrick Bourne's TD pass to Nelson Agholor
Josh McDaniels has broken out his share of tricks this season, none better than when Jones flipped one out to Bourne, who then found Agholor all alone behind the Jets secondary for the first touchdown in the Week 7 blowout.
Goal-line stand vs. Dallas
The Patriots defense struggled at times against the Cowboys but they stopped Dallas four times from the one, culminating with a brilliant play by Ja'Whaun Bentley to punch the ball away from Dak Prescott on fourth down.
Late FG drive to clinch win against the Chargers
The Patriots were clinging to a 24-17 lead and took over with 9:15 to go. Fourteen plays, 10 runs and seven minutes later, Nick Folk sealed the win with a 30-yard field goal.
Brady and the Bucs
Brady's return sparked some wonderful memories pregame and the game lived up to the hype. Unfortunately for the Patriots, they fell just short in a 19-17 loss.