10 reasons why the Patriots are undefeated

10 of 11

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

2. Stout run defense

It’s not just the pass rush and secondary that has been outperforming expectations. The Patriots’ run defense has been surprisingly stout, allowing just under 97 yards per game this season, good for seventh-fewest in the league.

The Pats have a pretty ideal situation at defensive tackle right now. They’ve got a pair of proven veterans, Alan Branch and Sealver Siliga, who are still producing at a high level. Behind them are 2015 and 2014 first-rounders Malcom Brown and Dominique Easley. In particular, Brown has been seeing more snaps as of late. Keep an eye on No. 90 next game; he’s been in the thick of things lately.

As for Easley, he’s still getting his NFL bearings under him after an injury-riddled rookie year. There’s no doubt that his athleticism will serve the Patriots well on the interior of the defensive line for years to come.

Of course, the ascendances of Collins and Hightower among the NFL’s inside linebacker ranks has bolstered the run defense as a whole. While Branch and Siliga and the young guys plug the first level of holes, Collins and Hightower (as well as former Dolphin Jonathan Freeny) are crashing the gaps.

Next: 1. Punt game