Patriots

NFL Notebook: Ex-Patriots’ RB thinks current group of backs can power New England through playoffs

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(John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

In this week's edition of the NFL Notebook, we look at the most memorable moments of the 2018 regular season, update the big board when it comes to career catches from Tom Brady, find out where the Patriots ended up when it came to their penalty totals, and wonder about Josh Gordon's ultimate legacy with this year's team. But first, a former Patriots' running back who was a part of two Super Bowl teams says he likes the look of the New England backfield heading into this postseason.

1. The Patriots’ ability to run the ball this year has — at times — mirrored the great New England teams of the early 21st century, a group led by the likes of Antowain Smith and Corey Dillon that was able to churn out consistent yards on the ground while keeping the heat off Tom Brady. Smith, who ran for 2,781 yards and 21 touchdowns in his three years with the Patriots (2001-03), told me this week this year’s group of backs is capable of doing the same thing he and the rest of the New England backs were able to do 15-plus years ago.