By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — The 6-1 Patriots do not have many weaknesses to pick apart when you go up and down their roster, but it’s been clear through seven games that they aren’t getting enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

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That could be where newcomer Kyle Van Noy could help. Regarded as a good pass rushing prospect out of BYU, the 2014 second-round draft pick was a disappointment in his first two-plus seasons with the Detroit Lions, registering just one sack in 30 NFL games. He did, however, start the first seven games of 2016 for the Lions, which may entice Bill Belichick to get him involved in the Patriots defense sooner rather than later.

“Well, it starts with [the fact that] he’s played,” said Belichick when asked what he’s seen from Van Noy that tells him he could be ready to see the field on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, despite having minimal experience in the system. “A player like himself or [Barkevious] Mingo or somebody like that, it’s different than bringing [Woodrow] Hamilton up off the practice squad who hasn’t played.

“I mean you can see those guys play and it’s a question of them really getting enough confidence in them and their teammates have enough confidence and familiarity and communication with their teammates so that they can go out there and perform effectively.”

The Patriots’ lack of a pass rush hasn’t adversely affected their record, of course, and the team still ranks fourth in the league with just 15.3 points allowed per game. But for a Patriots defense that has not broken much, they sure have done a lot of bending. They’ve allowed the 12th-most total plays in the league with 456 – about 65 per game. They’re also one of the worst teams in the NFL on third down, as they sit 21st in the league with a 41.9 percent success rate against them in that situation.

As those numbers indicate, the Patriots have struggled to get to the quarterback on passing downs for most of the 2016 season. They are 26th in the league in sacks with just 11 (Denver leads the league with 22) and 28th in sack percentage with just a 3.8 percent rate. QB pressure isn’t all about sacks, but the team has not been able to consistently rush the passer in general – Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald has counted 60 total combined QB hits and QB pressures by the Patriots defense, an average of 8.6 per game.

When you’re averaging about 39 pass attempts allowed per game, eight or nine collective pressures from your defense is not nearly enough.

Former Detroit Lions linebacker Kyle Van Noy, now with the New England Patriots (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Former Detroit Lions linebacker Kyle Van Noy, now with the New England Patriots (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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It’s fair to be confident that Belichick can bring the best out of Van Noy, but there’s also the distinct possibility that the former Lion makes little-to-no contributions to the defense as a whole, let alone the pass rush. Still, there’s a recent precedent for Belichick in improving the team’s defensive pressure through the installation of former castoffs or second-round picks mid-season. The strongest recent example is Akeem Ayers, a former second-rounder who looked like a bust in his time with the Tennessee Titans. Ayers registered four sacks and 17 tackles as a situational pass-rusher in nine regular-season games for the Patriots in 2014.

Van Noy told reporters after arriving in Foxboro that he had “a lot” of contact with the Patriots before the 2014 Draft, where he was selected 40th overall – 22 spots ahead of where the Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo. He also suggested that the Lions couldn’t figure out how to use him – something that Belichick would have as a good a chance as anyone in the league at achieving.

“They didn’t know where to put me [in Detroit] and here, they want me here and I’m happy to be wanted,” said Van Noy.

The unfortunate reality is, Van Noy will join a Patriots front-seven that has not been able to generate consistent pressure on the passer through seven games. Pro Football Focus has given the Patriots an average pass rush grade on the season of 61.2 for all players listed as “interior defenders” or “edge defenders.” That rates as “average” by their system. Jabaal Sheard ranks as the team’s highest-graded pass rusher with a 76.3 grade in that department.

Even the Patriots’ dynamic linebacker duo of Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins have pass rush grades of 77.7 and 68.2, respectively, which rates as slightly above-average. But as an overall unit, additional bodies could only help the pass rush. Van Noy would be off the Patriots roster before he could really hurt the team, anyway.

Van Noy’s Draft Profile described him as having “good pass-rush ability” and being “scheme-versatile” and “football smart,” which no doubt drew Belichick and the Patriots to him before the draft. It also projected him as a pick in rounds 3-4, which made him a bit of a reach on draft day in the first place. In Van Noy, Belichick has added a player that could surprise like Ayers did in 2014 and other recent trade additions have, like Akiem Hicks in 2015 and Aqib Talib in 2012.

Belichick has made a habit of making trades before the deadline to give his team a chance at improving in deficient areas. He’s often gotten career-best performances out of those acquisitions. If anyone can pull off that kind of magic with Van Noy, it’s the man in the hoodie.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at