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New England (5-3)

Pleasant: New England’s ability to dominate on the ground. As if the Tom Brady-led passing game wasn’t enough of a headache for opposing defenses, the Patriots are now on pace to finish with their highest rushing average (149.6 yards per game) since 1983. Stevan Ridley (716 yards, five touchdowns) has proven an upgrade to 2011 rushing leader BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who left via free agency in the offseason to Cincinnati. Danny Woodhead, Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen also contribute in a rush-by-committee approach.

Unpleasant: After swinging what proved unsuccessful trades for Albert Haynesworth and Chad Johnson, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick took another chance on a player with major character issues last week when acquiring cornerback Aqib Talib from Tampa Bay for a 2013 fourth-round draft pick. Talib, who still has to sit out one more week while serving a four-game NFL suspension for barred Adderall use, has a history of off-field issues that have overshadowed his on-field efforts. Making this deal shows Belichick’s desperation to upgrade a secondary that has surrendered a season-high 38 completions of 20-plus yards. - Alex Marvez (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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