Dion Lewis #33 of the New England Patriots. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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The Patriots’ X Factor You Didn’t Expect: Dion Lewis

He could be the key to putting the Pats over the top.

Dion Lewis emerged as one of the Patriots’ — and the league’s — most reliable playmakers over the season. He has quietly become the best and most complete running back that Tom Brady has worked with in years, and he may just be the key to the Patriots’ playoff run. Lewis, 27, has played for the Eagles, Browns and Colts. He missed all of 2013 because of a broken fibula, was out of the league in 2014 and was relatively unknown when he joined New England in 2015, but he played well that year, with 622 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. But then, an ACL tear cut his season short. The Patriots moved on and added free agents Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee to a group that included Lewis and Super Bowl hero James White. Lewis gradually got more reps and with a little help from a Gillislee fumble during Week 6, Lewis leapfrogged both guys in front of him, writes The Ringer. This season, he had career highs in carries (180), yards (896), and touchdowns (six), with 32 catches for 214 yards and three scores as a pass catcher out of the backfield. The Ringer writes that he also added 23 kick returns for 570 yards and a touchdown.

Read the full story at The Ringer