Aqib Talib’s Impact in Secondary, Tom Brady’s Ability to Close Out Games Key for Patriots for ‘Super’ Success (Photos)


The Patriots have been to the extremes of the high-low spectrum so far this season.

The Tom Brady-led New England offense is once again among the most dominant in the NFL, putting up outrageous numbers and consistently instilling fear in opposing defenses. But where the offense has excelled, the defense has struggled.

Vince Wilfork and Brandon Spikes have spearheaded one of the league’s most stingy run defenses, allowing just over 96 yards per game. But just like 2011, the Patriots’ NFL-worst pass defense has continued to be their Achilles heel.

The decision to move Devin McCourty to safety has already begun to pay off, and the addition of cornerback Aqib Talib at the trade deadline should offer at least a slight boost.

While Talib looks to provide some relief, injuries continue to hamper the Patriots on both sides of the ball. With Patrick Chung still out of his normal starting safety spot, Aaron Hernandez struggling with a lingering ankle problem and the offensive line ravaged almost weekly, the Patriots could use some magical healing powers. But they’ll likely just have to remain patient and resort to good old rest and rehab.

So many questions surround this Patriots team ahead of what New England hopes is another long playoff run. So let’s take a look at some of the most pressing issues, questions and concerns heading into the home stretch of the 2012 season.

Click here to see the Top 10 storylines for the Patriots in the second half>>

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