New England Patriots have key ingredients to make Super Bowl push

Brady leads Patriots' charge at halfway point (1:35)

ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss says with MVP-caliber play, QB Tom Brady has the Patriots well positioned for a Super Bowl push. (1:35)

A look at the highs and lows of the first half of the season for the New England Patriots (8-0) and what to expect in the second half:

Midseason MVP: Tom Brady. He's also the leading candidate for NFL MVP honors. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is right behind, but the way Brady has produced behind an offensive line hit by significant injuries and breaking in three rookies has been most impressive.

Best moment: Let's split this into two categories -- the best overall moment and the best on-field moment -- because of the unique circumstances surrounding the Patriots' season. The best overall moment for the team came Sept. 3, shortly after 10 a.m. ET, when U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman overturned Brady's four-game suspension stemming from alleged deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game. Those who work inside Gillette Stadium heard screams of excitement coming from the offices of owner Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft, which reflected the overall feeling of vindication in the team's facility. At each home game, there have been chants of "Brady! Brady! Brady!" As for the best on-field moment, running back Dion Lewis has been one of the surprise performers of the first half and his 10-yard touchdown catch and run against Dallas on Oct. 11 -- when he made two defenders miss and ran through the tackle of two other defenders -- was as good as it gets.

Worst moment: Starting left tackle Nate Solder tore his biceps in the second quarter of the team's win over the Cowboys, marking the team's most significant season-ending injury for a starting player. That thrust Marcus Cannon into the starting lineup, and then he injured his toe on the first drive of the Oct. 18 game at Indianapolis and hasn't played since. Then on Nov. 8, running back Dion Lewis, who had been one of the team's feel-good stories of the first half, tore his left ACL.

Mark your calendar: Nov. 29 at Denver looks like a potential classic. The Broncos defense might be the best in the NFL, and the Patriots offense can make a strong case for being No. 1. What happens when iron meets iron? That game could ultimately decide home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs, and one thing to consider is that the Patriots will be coming off a short week after hosting Buffalo on Monday Night Football the week before.

Key to second half: With the caveat that good health for key players such as Brady, Gronkowski, receiver Julian Edelman, and linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins is the obvious choice, let's go deeper, because that type of answer could apply to any team. The key for the Patriots will be cornerbacks holding up their end of the bargain. With Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Justin Coleman and Rashaan Melvin on the depth chart, it's a position with limited experience and depth.