It was a one-sided blowout today. (Jim Rogash - Getty Images)
The Patriots built their defense around playing offensive powerhouses like the Bears. They built their offense around around taking advantage of mismatches. They allowed these match ups to play out, and their planning was executed to a T.
On defense, the Patriots manned their corners up against the WRs they were built to shut down. Browner was used against Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery, utilizing his size to press and get physical with his assignment. Revis was allowed to shut down the more athletic Brandon Marshall, allowing Marshall nothing in the first half, including several pass break ups and an INT to close out the first half. The front seven played admirably, getting several sacks and decent stops in the run game. Akeem Ayers was used primarily on special teams but contributed on defense with a sack of Jay Cutler at the end of the first half. Dominique Easley, Zach Moore, and Rob Ninkovich picked up the slack after the loss of Chandler Jones by getting pressure and sacking the quarterback three times. Jamie Collins did not have a great day, mostly shadowing Matt Forte, but Forte is a tough player to take advantage of in match ups. The defense went vanilla at the end of the 3rd quarter and started to play back ups, resulting in the Bears final 16 points.
On offense, the trinity of Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell, and Tim Wright allowed Brady to absolutely tear apart the Bears over-matched secondary. The two tight end sets allowed Gronk and Tim Wright to abuse the linebackers and safeties with ease. Gronk and Brady connected twice in the first half on plays of 3rd and 14 and 3rd and 18 to move the chains. The run game was effective with the downhill style of Jonas Gray, who had a phenomenal game, rushing 17 times for 87 yards, and Vereen tagged on 22 yards on five carries. The Bears depleted linebacking corps could not do anything against the Patriots linemen and the running backs behind them, opening holes at will. The underwhelming Bears front seven could not get to Brady, allowing Tom to send out four to five receiving options each passing play, and pick his targets with ease. Brady's 85.7 completion percentage (30-35) was the highest in his career, and that's not accounting for the numerous drops by Vereen and Edelman. Brady ended his day with 354 yards and 5 touchdowns.
When all was said and done, this a complete victory, and if the Patriots had played the same way for the full 60 minutes it could have been much more one sided than 51-23. Next week will test the resolve of this Patriots team, but a loss will not mean the end of the world. Take comfort in how the Patriots played this week and soak it in while you can; these next few weeks will be a tough test.