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High-powered Patriots offense improving as season goes on behind a revived running game

The New England Patriots are on track to shatter the NFL record for first downs in a season with a balanced offense that ranks first in the league.

The Patriots are averaging 30.2 first downs a game and would finish with 483 if they maintain that pace. The record of 416 was set last year by the New Orleans Saints. New England set a team record with 35 first downs in Sunday's 31-21 win over the Denver Broncos.

New England also is averaging 439.4 yards per game, 11 more than the team record it set last season.

The big difference this season is an improved running game, which produced 251 yards against the Broncos one week after rushing for 247 in a 52-28 victory over the Buffalo Bills.