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Nuggetpalooza’s Patriots-Bills Preview!

09.24.10 at 9:58 am ET
By

nuggetpalooza-small4Not quite as much buzz for this game as there was for the first two Pats games, but it’s a divisional rival, and New England is missing an important cog in Kevin Faulk. So, what do you need to get you ready?  NUMBERS!:

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* – Buffalo has scored points on just 3 of their 22 offensive possessions in 2010 (2 touchdowns, 1 field goal), the lowest percentage in the league (14%). The Steelers have fewer touchdowns, though, with 1, but they have 7 FG.

The Patriots have ALLOWED points on 9 of 21 opponent possessions (43%), tied with Houston for the highest such percentage in the league.

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* – You probably knew this, but the New England defense has allowed 4.85 yards/play in the first half this season (13th) and 5.85 yards/play in the 2nd half (23rd).

This did surprise me, though: Against the Jets, the Patriots allowed 5.30 yards/play in the 2nd half (13th last week, thought it would be worse). Can you guess who had the WORST second half defense last week in terms of yards/play allowed? The Saints, who allowed 8.46 yards/play to the 49ers in their last second win in San Francisco on Monday night.

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* – New England has allowed at least 1 touchdown in the 4th quarter of their last 5 games, the longest current streak in the NFL (3 teams currently have a 3 game streak). The last time the Patriots had such a streak in 5 straight was at the beginning of the 2005 season.

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* – Buffalo has allowed their opponent to score on both of their game opening drives this season, joining Detroit and Minnesota as the only teams to have done so. It’s quite a turnaround from 2009, when the Bills allowed only 3 such scores during the entire season (and Minnesota allowed just 2).

New England’s offense put points on the board on their opening possession 5 times last season and once so far in 2010 (an opening day TD against Cincinnati).

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* – The Bills have averaged 3.95 yards on first down so far in 2010, the lowest average in the NFL and nearly a full yard below their average last season (26th ranked 4.95).

New England, averaging 6.84 yards on first down, ranks 3rd so far (they were 4th last season), but the Bills have been stout on defense, allowing 4.31 first down yards (5th).

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* – New England averaged 2.60 yards per rush last week against the Jets, their lowest since they managed only a 1.69 average 33 games ago against the Giants.

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* – The Patriots rushed 13 times in the first quarter last week, the most in the NFL and the most in a first quarter by the Pats since they also ran it 13 times in the opening stanza of week 2 of 2006 (63 games).

The strange thing about this, especially considering that it was a close game, was that New England eventually ran the ball just 7 more times the  rest of the game, meaning 65% of their rushing attempts came in the first quarter. That’s the highest single game percentage in the NFL in over three years.

Only 3 times in all of 2009 did a team attempt even 50% of all their running plays for a game in the first quarter.

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* – New England’s offense has found themselves in 2nd and 10 or more yards 14 times this season and are 0-14 at converting those 2nd down plays. Last season, they converted 2nd and 10+ on 24 different occasions.

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* – The Patriots have attempted 16 passes more than 10 yards downfield this season and have completed just 4. That 25% completion percentage is the lowest in the NFL. The Pats went 2-7 in week one and 2-9 last Sunday on those throws.

I guess the bright side is that they have at least 2 completions on those passes in their last 18 consecutive games, which is actually the 7th longest current streak in the league right now (Houston, 50).

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* – The Patriots have allowed their opponents 6 different drives of 10 or more plays already this season, tied with Washington for the most in the NFL. Fortunately, they’ve allowed points on just 2 of those 6 drives.

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* – Through 2 games, the Patriots are averaging 8.8 yards per pass play when opponents blitz (2nd) and 5.6 per pass play when they don’t (21st).

But you can’t see THIS in yards per play averages: Last week, the Jets blitzed on 65% of pass plays and Brady went 13-24 with 2 INT and 0 TD versus blitzes and 7-12 with 2 TD and 0 INT versus non-blitzes.

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* – After allowing 20+ first downs only 8 times in their previous 35 games, the Pats have now allowed 20+ in each of their last 3 regular season contests. It’s their first such streak of 3 games or more since they had an 8-gamer in 2005. New England has not allowed an average of 20+ first downs in a season since 2000 (20.4).

Note that Buffalo has not reached 20 first downs in any of their last 7 games.

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* – The Patriots and Chiefs are the only teams that have yet to allow a kickoff return of 20+ yards this season. Contrast that to the Rams, against whom all 6 KOR’s have gone for 20+. Last season, 73% of all kickoff returns against New England went for 20+, the 4th highest percentage in the league.

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* – The Bills have lost an NFL-high 85 yards through two weeks on negative plays, including 71 on pass plays (also a league high).

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* – New England receivers are averaging 2.22 yards AFTER CONTACT this season (5th), while the Bills pass catchers have averaged just 1.07 YACO yards (30th). The Bears lead the NFL at 3.20, while the Chiefs (0.96) bring up the rear, slightly worse than Green Bay (0.97).

Please don’t confuse YACO yards (yards gained after CONTACT) with YAC yards (yards gained after CATCH)!

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* – Only one team has yet to ATTEMPT a pass from inside their opponent’s 30 yard line in 2010: The Buffalo Bills. That’s not much of a switch, as only Cleveland (62) and Oakland (65) had fewer such pass attempts last season than Buffalo (74).

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* – Somewhat related: Buffalo has driven inside their opponents’ 30 yard line just 3 times this season, but they’ve scored each time and their average of 5.67 points per such drive ranks 2nd in the league.

The Patriots defense has allowed opponents to drive inside their 30 on 7 occasions and has allowed an average of 6.57 points on those possessions, the worst in the NFL. Last season, they ranked 10th best allowing an average of 4.28.

New England has 9 such drives but has come away empty 4 times, tied with San Diego, San Francisco, and Carolina for the most such empty trips this season. The Pats’ 3.44 points average on those drives ranks 26th.

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* – Through two weeks, 7 different teams have committed just 1 (or zero) fumbles and the Patriots and Bills are two of those teams. The Bills are one of just 6 teams that has yet to LOSE a fumble and are also one of just 7 that has yet to RECOVER an opponent’s fumble.

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* – Through 2 games, the Bills have a total of 32 first half passing yards, by far the fewest in the NFL. It’s the fewest by the Bills over consecutive first halfs since the 2003 season.

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* – Despite converting just 5-11 third downs against the Jets last week (45%), the Patriots still lead the NFL with a 58% conversion rate of third downs. Last year, they ranked 8th at 44%.

After finishing dead last at coverting third downs in 2009 (26%), Buffalo hasn’t fared much better early in 2010, converting at just 27%.

Defensively, each team has allowed 50% conversions so far this season, among the league’s worst marks.

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* – Somewhat related, Buffalo went just 20 for 120 on third and 6+ last year (17%), the lowest percentage in the league. This year, they’re off to another last place start (1 for 18; 6%).

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* – Tom Brady still appears to be as accurate as ever as 73.2% of his passes have been rules “catchable” (4th), the same as his ranking last season. However, Patriots receivers have dropped 7 passes already, accounting for 13.5% of catchable balls, the 4th highest percentage in the NFL so far. Those guys weren’t great last year, either, dropping 8.9% of catchable throws (8th highest percentage).

Bills quarterbacks have thrown just 63.5% catchable balls (25th, after ranking 24th last season) and receivers have dropped 12.1% of those catchable passes (7th worst).

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* – If you take away any yards after the catch, Buffalo’s 11 pass completions last week would have gained a total of 11 yards last Sunday, their second lowest total since they began tracking yards AT catch in 1992. The strange thing is that their total was not the lowest in the league LAST WEEK. Pittsburgh managed -1 (minus 1) yards AT catch in their win against Tennessee.

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* – Buffalo, Miami, and San Diego are the only teams that have not allowed a first down via penalty yet this season. New England allowed 3 first downs via flags last week against the Jets, the most by a Pats defense since week 11 of 2008.

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* – Through 2 weeks, Buffalo’s average yards per pass attempt (4.63) is the lowest in the NFL:

4.63 – Buffalo Bills
4.88 – Kansas City Chiefs
5.22 – Baltimore Ravens

The lowest single season mark ever is 4.23, by the 1968 Bills. Since 1990, the lowest is 4.88, by the 1992 Seattle Seahawks.

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* – The Patriots have scored 25 touchdowns in the 2nd quarter since the start of last season, the most in the NFL in that span:

25 – New England Patriots
22 – New Orleans Saints
22 – New York Giants

The Raiders have just 6 such touchdowns in that same span.

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Check back tomorrow for a massive batch of  ”Around the NFL” nuggets!  Enjoy your football weekend!

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