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4. Power running out of Steven Jackson and Joey Iosefa
In addition to winning on Sunday, the Patriots would also love the gift of a dependable power running game throughout the playoffs. Tom Brady may be the best quarterback in the history of the game, but he is not superhuman. He will not be able to carry this team to a fifth Super Bowl victory by throwing the ball 59 times every game; he needs a ground game to help him out.
That’s where newly signed Jackson steps into the conversation. Jackson hasn’t been involved in the playoffs since his rookie season back in 2004; since then, he’s ripped off eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, but alas, not a single snap in January.
But it’s not like Jackson is going to all of a sudden be the focal point of the Patriots’ rushing attack. Iosefa displayed impressive downhill running ability against the Tennessee Titans, thoroughly embarrassing Coty Sensabaugh with a lowered shoulder boom.
These two guys need to get a combined 20 carries in each game, and the Patriots will be just fine.
Next: 3. Ball security on punt returns