Monday Morning Hangover: Patriots overload edition

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 18, 2007



By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts keeper of the gates

During every dead moment of the Bills-Patriots game Sunday night, NBC was flashing a new record the Patriots had either broken or were chasing, to the point where it all blurred together.
 
It was like a drunken orgy of stats (something that sounds pretty damn good to us triply obsessed with porn, booze and football).
 
Here are a few more to add to the statistical group grope.
  1. The Patriots have scored 48 points or more four times this season. From the start of 2006, the entire rest of the league boasts four other 48+ point games in 826 tries.
  2. Reche Caldwell led the 2006 Patriots with 760 yards. Randy Moss passed him in Week 8 (779 yards). Caldwell, meanwhile, has yet to catch a pass for the Redskins this year. 
  3. The Patriots have scored 38 points or more seven times this season. They had reached 38 points just 13 times in the previous seven seasons under Bill Belichick, including playoffs.
  4. On the road for six out of its first 10 games, New England has posted wins of 24, 21, 21, 21, 4 and 46.
  5. The Patriots don't have a single player with 100 carries through 10 games.
  6. Patriots tight ends (including Mike Vrabel) have 32 catches ... and 10 TDs.
  7. Through 10 games, the Patriots are +254 in point differential. The 1985 Bears were +258 for the entire season.
  8. Tom Brady's game by game TD pass totals: 3, 3, 4, 3, 3, 5, 6, 3, 3, 5.
  9. Tom Brady's worst passer rating in a game this year is 95.2. Brett Favre, a legitimate MVP front-runner in any other year, has a season rating of 98.6.
  10. The top three all-time marks for completion percentage in a season are 70.55 (Ken Anderson, 1982), 70.33 (Sammy Baugh, 1945) and 70.28 (Steve Young, 1994). Tom Brady is at 74.0.
  11. Neil O'Donnell is the all-time leader in career interception ratio, throwing picks on just 2.21 percent of his passes. This season, Brady is at 1.18 percent.
  12. In four games against the AFC East, Randy Moss has 28 catches for 548 yards and nine touchdowns.
  13. No Patriots defender has more than 36 solo tackles; 12 different Pats have at least 20.
  14. Including extra points, kicker Stephen Gostkowski is 65 for 66 on the season.
  15. The Patriots have yet to attempt a two-point conversion.
  16. New England is fifth in rushing yards per game (131.8) and tied for fifth in rushing TDs. 
  17. The Patriots have lost just three fumbles in 316 carries, second-best ratio in the league behind the Jets. 
 
THE INEXPLICABLE
Every week, something totally unexpected happens in the NFL. The "any given Sunday" concept (which Steelers fans are certainly well aware of today) extends to players and approaches as well as outcomes.
 
Consider ...
 
Saints tight end Eric Johnson came into New Orleans' game with Houston leading all wideouts/tight ends in percentage of passes caught (i.e. throws to divided by catches). So, what happened Sunday? Both of Drew Brees' interceptions came off tipped balls – that went right off the formerly soft hands of Johnson.
 
Steelers running back Willie Parker had to be licking his chops heading to Jersey on Sunday to play the Jets. New York was allowing 4.38 yards a carry (25th) and had the No. 32 Defensive Hogs on our index. And Parker had been a model of consistency, with 100-yard  games against each of the poor front sevens on the schedule (two vs. Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo). Then he somehow goes 21 carries for 52 yards, and the Steelers lose. Puzzling.
 
Finally, in Philly, the Dolphins had a punt return for a score, won the turnover battle 3-0 and knocked out the other team's starting QB. About 99.9999999994 percent of the time, a team doing all three will win the game. But Miami LOST BY 10. Perhaps that 0-16 dream might come true after all.
 
REGGIE BUSH: STILL AWFUL
A piece appeared in Sports Illustrated this past week putting a favorable spin on Reggie Bush, concluding that he was still an impact player.
 
Well, here's more evidence that he's no such thing. Bush had the ball in his hands 26 times Sunday against a Texans team that was 28th in yards per carry allowed, 21st in defensive passer rating, and had given up 37 Big Plays (second worst in the NFL). 
 
And how'd he do against this defense tailor-made for his incredible game-breaking greatness?
 
His longest gain was a whopping 11 yards, and the Saints scored 10 points. He had 104 yards on 31 plays designed for him (15 carries, 16 passes to him), an average of 3.36 yards a play. Oh, and he fumbled twice.
 
But he sure does look pretty in ads!
 
AFC vs. NFC
The AFC took a big P.R. hit with Pittsburgh's loss to the Jets and the Colts' struggles vs. Kansas City. Meanwhile, the Cowboys and Packers both had nice wins to go along with their tidy one-loss records, and left little doubt that they're 2-3 (in whichever order) behind New England.
 
Add three wins for the NFC against terrible AFC teams (MIN over OAK, PHI over MIA, AZ over CIN), and it was a good week overall.
 
For the season, the NFC now has a 23-21 lead. Now if they only had the Patriots, they might break their Super Bowl hex.
 
HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE? HA!
It's said that home teams win two-thirds of the time in the NFL, but it's simply not so.
 
For the second straight season, home teams are winning at a fairly low clip. After a 9-6 Sunday, home teams are only 87-72 this year – a .548 winning percentage.
 
That's actually a little better than it was in 2006, when home teams were 136-120 (.535). This is part of a general decline in home-field advantage.
  • In 2005, home teams were 151-105 (.594).
  • In 2004 they were 145-111 (.567).
  • In 2003, it was 157-97 (.618)
  • In 2002, it was 148-108 (.578)0
So we've gone from a 58.6 win percentage from 2002-05 to 53.7 in 2006-07.
 
That's a significant difference, and goes to the general death of parity in the NFL. When teams are all basically even, that home-field edge makes a huge difference. When they aren't, home-field isn't going to make much of an impact.

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