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Ex-NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky shows how the Patriots are the smartest team in football

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The New England Patriots have won six straight games not just because of their ability to out-muscle their opponents, but also because of their intelligence — something that was on full display during their 36-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 12. ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky took a deep dive into this aspect of the game during Monday’s edition of Get Up.

Orlovsky used two plays as an example.

The first was a successful screen pass to Brandon Bolden on a 3rd-and-10 in the opening quarter. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor and left guard Ted Karras both identified and carried out their assignments at a high level to help Bolden get enough yards for the conversion.

The second play was a Matthew Judon tackle against a scrambling Ryan Tannehill. The Patriots’ front seven led by linebacker Dont’a Hightower recognized the Titans’ alignment and sniffed out the planned screen play. As a result, Tannehill was forced to scramble — setting up a 3rd-and-5 that was not converted.

“We talk about it all the time, how smart New England is,” Orlovsky said. “You saw two examples there of how well they’re coached and how it helps them execute better than anybody in the NFL.”

The contributions from players such as Agholor, Karras or Hightower on plays like these may not show up on the stat-sheet, but they are massively important. They also are a reason why New England now sits at 8-4 and in striking distance of the number one playoff seed in the AFC.