10 things Patriots fans should be thankful for

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Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

7. A surprisingly good pass defense

When Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington departed over the offseason, everyone and their mother was questioning the Patriots’ willingness to let those stars go. Pass defense was a major concern entering Week 1.

But here we are, eating turkey in late November and the Patriots’ passing defense has surpassed expectations. Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 60.6 percent of passes, the eighth-fewest figure among all 32 pass defenses. In addition, opposing quarterback rating averages 83.9, the ninth-lowest.

Much of the success can be attributed to a coming-of-age performance from Malcolm Butler, who was a completely unknown entity to most of the league at this time last year but has risen to prominence as not just a Super Bowl hero, but also a true No. 1 corner. Butler has to be considered a top-ten cover man after snuffing out Odell Beckham Jr. and Sammy Watkins in consecutive weeks.

Related: Week 11 stock watch: Malcolm Butler up

Butler’s 11 passes defended rank 13th among all defensive players, ahead of elite cornerbacks such as Aqib Talib, Richard Sherman and the player he replaced in New England, Revis.

The other main contributor to the pass defense’s good year has been Devin McCourty, who showcased his elite talent on Monday night by batting away a sure touchdown to LeSean McCoy at the last possible moment.

Next: 6. Trio of rookie O-linemen playing like vets