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Patriots strong defense sparks team to 3-0 start while offense endures growing pains

The New England Patriots defense is off to a strong start while the offense has endured growing pains.

It's allowed just three touchdowns as the Patriots are 3-0 for the first time in six seasons. But the competition gets tougher when they visit the Atlanta Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan on Sunday night.

Ryan was sixth in the NFL in passer rating after Sunday's games. None of the first three quarterbacks the Patriots faced is higher than 19th.

Ten defensive starters are back from last season for New England. The only newcomer is tackle Tommy Kelly, who spent his other nine seasons with the Oakland Raiders and has fit in well.

And defensive end Rob Ninkovich is off to a solid start with 19 tackles.

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