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Nuggetpalooza: Patriots vs Bills preview!

09.24.11 at 10:35 am ET
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It’s a second straight “Battle of the Unbeatens” on Sunday as the Patriots battle the surprising Bills. While stats after two weeks still don’t mean as much as we would like, here are some things to chew on:

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* – The Patriots late touchdown on Sunday gave them 35 points, the 10th straight time they’ve scored 31 or more, which is the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1990… Seattle was shut out for the first time since Week 1 of the 2000 season, snapping a streak of 176 straight games scoring points. Denver has scored in every game since mid-1992, 295 consecutive games, the longest current scoring streak in the league… Washington has not shut out an opponent since 1991 (317 games), the longest streak in the NFL without pitching a shutout… Scoring is way up so far this season for the league as a whole as teams have averaged 23.5 points over the first two weeks, the most over any opening two weeks of a season since at least 1990:

23.5 – 2011
22.5 – 2002
22.2 – 1994
21.9 – 2000

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* – Over the last nine games between these two teams, the Patriots have committed only five turnovers while the Bills have turned it over 22 times.

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* – Over their first two games, the Bills have scored 28 points in the third quarter and 28 in the fourth quarter, both are league highs. It’s the first time that Buffalo has scored at least one touchdown in the third and fourth quarters in consecutive games since Weeks 16 and 17 of the 2004 season. In that same span, the Patriots have done it in consecutive games seven times, including a streak where they scored a third and fourth quarter TD in SIX straight games in 2006-2007.

NFL Note: The Chiefs have been shut out in the second half of both games this season. Last season, only two teams had two consecutive games in which they didn’t score in the second half: The Cardinals… and the Chiefs… The Chargers have scored in the second half of their last 59 straight games, the longest current streak in the league.

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* – With 79 points through two games, the Bills lead the NFL in scoring. They last led the NFL in scoring in 1990. They’ve scored 38 and 41 points, the first time they’ve scored 35+ in consecutive games since 2004. Here’s a thought: The Patriots have now scored 35+ points in seven of their last 10 games. Prior to their last two games, Buffalo had scored 35+ in seven of their previous 101 games.

NFL Note: The Jets haven’t scored 35+ in consecutive regular season games since 1972. Every other team has done it since 1989 (Cleveland) except Houston, who has yet to pull it off since rejoining the league in 2002.

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* – The Patriots have scored a touchdown on their opening possession of both games, while the Bills have not yielded a score on either of their opponents’ game opening drives this season.

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* – So far, the Patriots have started three drives on their opponents’ side of the 50-yard-line and managed only one field goal, while the Bills have had five such drives and cashed in with three touchdowns and a field goal. New England really made hay in these situations last season, scoring 19 times and averaging 4.52 points on their 25 drives that started with a short field. That 4.52 average was third best in the league behind Houston (4.93) and Indy (4.92).

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* – Through two games, Bills opponents have already scored two touchdowns within the final two minutes of a half. New England has put up a field goal and a touchdown in the last two minutes so far and are one of six teams that have allowed zero such points thus far.

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* – The Patriots have already had three scoring drives that began inside their own 10-yard-line, one more than they had during all of last season. Buffalo is the only NFL team that has not allowed any such scoring drives since the start of last season.

NFL Note: San Francisco has had only one such scoring drive on offense since the start of the 2009 season.

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* – The Bills’ 190 rushing yards per game leads the league so far and their 5.94 average yards per rush ranks second (Philadelphia, 5.95). Buffalo last led the league in rushing yards per game in 1992 (152.3) and in yards per rush way back in 1975 (5.10).

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* – Through two weeks, the Patriots’ defense has allowed scores on just 6-of-10 opponent drives in the red zone (60%) and are averaging 3.8 points allowed on those drives. Last year, opponents scored on 40-of-50 such drives (80%) and averaged 4.56 points.

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* – New England has 15 pass plays of 20 or more yards already, while Buffalo, despite all the points scored, has only TWO such plays. Only Seattle (1) has fewer big pass plays. It’s a good thing, because the Patriots’ defense has allowed a league high 16 big pass plays this season, an average of eight per game, after allowing an average of 6.9 per game last season.

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* – Tom Brady is 17-for-18 passing in the first quarter (94%). The Patriots completed 62% of first quarter passes in 2010 (12th) and 64% in 2009 (8th). The Saints (mostly Drew Brees) have led the league in first quarter completion percentage in each of the last two seasons (79% in 2010; 72% in 2009).

Note this: Brady has completed 94% in the first quarter and 65% (46-for-70) over the rest of the game.

Note this too: The Pats have thrown for 115 yards in each first quarter this season. They never threw for 100+ yards in consecutive first quarters in any of the previous eight seasons.However, the Bills have not allowed even TWENTY passing yards in any of their last four first quarters dating back to last season, one shy of the longest such streak in the NFL since 2003.

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* – Only eight teams have less than 33 percent touchbacks on their kickoffs this season, and the Patriots (4-of-13) and Bills (4-of-15) are two of them.

NFL Note: Only two teams have forced touchbacks on all of their 2011 kickoffs: Oakland (11-of-11) and Denver (10-of-10).

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* – New England is the only NFL team that has yet to commit a fumble this season and the Patriots and Bills are two of the seven teams that have not yet lost a fumble.

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* – While the Bills rank second in first downs gained this season with 57 and the Patriots rank third with 55, the Bills’ have averaged NINE more first downs per game than their opponent. The Patriots’ average first down margin? +0.5.

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* – It’s early yet, but the Bills’ average starting field position (the 34.5-yard-line) ranks fourth and their opponents’ average starting position (21.7-yard-line) ranks first. Their net field position (+12.8 yards), is the highest/best in the league so far. That’s a major improvement over last year, when their net starting field position tied for the lowest/worst in the NFL:

-4.7 – Bills
-4.7 – Panthers
-4.6 – Broncos

The Patriots ranked fourth last season in net starting field position (+3.9) and are 13th through the first two weeks this season (+3.2).

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* – New England running backs have averaged an NFL high 4.5 yards per carry in the red zone so far:

4.50 – Patriots
4.20 – Giants
3.50 – Falcons

Last season, New England’s 3.09 rushing average in the red zone ranked third.

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* – The Patriots (5-for-5) and the Bears (5-for-5) are the only two teams in the league that have rushed for a first down on every third down rushing attempt this season. New England led the league last season, converting 69.6% of their third down rushing tries into first downs.

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* – In the last three matchups between these two teams, the Patriots have converted just seven times in their last 24 third down pass attempts (29%). In all other games in that span, the Pats have converted on 47% of their third down pass attempts.

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Enjoy the game!

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