No team in the NFL has been playing any better than the Patriots have over the last two months. A seven-game winning streak in which New England has run roughshod over its opponents has illustrated the team's dominance.
While the team has been led by its stars – specifically Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Darrelle Revis – the Patriots have also received contributions from a variety of other sources, some of which haven't exactly been expected.
When Patrick Chung re-signed with the Patriots after a year in Philly, few expected him to make the team let alone become a staple in the starting lineup. Now he's been an instrumental part of the defense as an in-the-box safety showcasing his versatility.
Brandon LaFell was a free agent addition who appeared to be going down a similar path as a lot of other wide receivers coming into the Patriots system, talking about how difficult the offense was and feeling overwhelmed trying to fit it. Now he's emerged as one of the team's primary targets in an offense that leads the league in scoring.
There have been plenty of other candidates as well, but our Samsonite Make Your Case question this week is looking for the biggest surprise for the Patriots so far this season.
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Entering training camp I thought the best we could hope for with Chung was adding a special teams player who might be able to add depth to the safety spot. He's been so much more than that, and his versatility has added a real dimension to the Patriots secondary.
Chung isn't known for his coverage skills and in truth he hasn't been asked to do a lot of covering this season. But he's been immense near the line of scrimmage as an extra run-stopper, and when he has been used in the passing game he's been competitive against tight ends, especially in the red zone.
Chung may still not be the best candidate to play center field or prevent the deep ball, but operating in the box where he can use his physicality, he can be a useful player. That's exactly what he's been and that's been a big surprise to me.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
It's not like I wasn't expecting anything from LaFell when the Patriots signed him in the offseason. I just wasn't expecting this much.
LaFell has emerged as the Patriots best wide receiver and he's filled a huge void as a target for Tom Brady outside the numbers. He's been steady and consistent, and over the past couple of months he's become a very dangerous weapon with the ball in his hands, making tacklers miss and coming up with a bunch of big plays.
LaFell isn't known as a burner and his time in Carolina was as a complementary part at best. Lately, he's shown he's capable of giving more to the offense and he and Brady appear poised to hit on some deep balls, which would really accentuate his contributions.
I thought LaFell could help but I've been surprised by just how much he's produced.
Now it's your turn to cast your vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.