(CBS Boston) — Another NFL season, another New England Patriots Super Bowl run. With their Thursday night win over the New York Giants, the Pats pushed their record to 6-0. They’re one of only two undefeated teams left, and the only team to make it to six wins. Their main AFC competition — the Kansas City Chiefs — have now lost two straight.
So not much has really changed in New England, or has it?
While the winning remains a constant, the approach is entirely new. The defense, rather than Tom Brady and the offense, is leading the way. That dynamic was on display again in Week 6 against the rebuilding New York Giants. With starter Saquon Barkley out, the Pats limited backup Jon Hillman to just 38 yards on 11 carries. Kyle Van Noy returned a Hillman fumble for a touchdown late in the game. The defense also contained promising rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, who went a pedestrian 15-31 for 161 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions.
As NFL On CBS analyst Phil Simms observed of the defense, “it is really built differently from most defenses in the NFL.” Many teams focus on the front seven and generating a pass rush. The Patriots, as is so often the case, have approached things differently, with stellar results. “The Patriots defense is loaded,” says Simms, “the best secondary in football, not just the ones that start but they have three or four reserves that can come in and play and nothing changes. So now, up front for the defensive front, all they have to do is push the pocket and don’t let the quarterback out. The cornerbacks are winning.”
And the strategy is working.
Their defense leads the NFL in multiple categories, including points per game (8) and yards per game (234.7). It even compares favorably to some of the NFL’s historically great defenses. To be perfectly clear, the Patriots’ competition is a combined 10-23 on the season so far. Only the Buffalo Bills, who they beat 16-10 in Week 4, has a winning record. And some better offenses dot the schedule in November and December, including the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs. Whether they stay a leader, while certainly possible, remains to be seen.
Of course, Tom Brady still quarterbacks an offense that features a variety of weapons. Should the defense flounder, there’s every reason to believe he can lead this Patriots team to glory yet again.
The Patriots play the Jets in New York Monday @ 8:15 pm ET.
You can catch Phil Simms along with Ray Lewis, Michael Irvin, Brandon Marshall and host James Brown on Inside The NFL every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.