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Nuggetpalooza: Patriots vs Raiders!

10.01.11 at 9:15 am ET
By

The Patriots have the Boston sports spotlight to themselves this weekend as they visit the resurgent Raiders on Sunday afternoon trying to put last week’s disappointing loss behind them. Here are some numbers to ponder:

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* – New England has now scored 31 or more points in 11 consecutive games, the longest such streak in the NFL since at least 1970:

11 – Patriots (2010-11)
9 – Patriots (2006-07)
8 – Rams (1999-2000)

Note this: The Raiders have scored 31 or more points in five of their last seven games.

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* – New England’s 495 yards last week was their FEWEST in their last four games, dating back to last season. In their previous 28 games, their MOST total yards was 477.

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* – The Raiders have scored two or more rushing touchdowns in the first half in each of their last two games. It’s the first time they’ve done that in consecutive games since they began tracking the stat in 1991.

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* – Last Sunday was just the second time since 1997 that the Patriots have lost a game despite scoring 14 or more points in the first quarter. The other was a 31-30 loss to Miami in 1999.

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* – The Patriots have had six rushes of 10 or more yards this season, but here’s what looks good: If you eliminate all the rushing plays of 10 or more yards, the Pats’ are still averaging 3.33 yards per carry, the highest such average in the NFL so far:

3.33 – Patriots
3.22 – Cardinals
3.20 – Colts

The Patriots ranked second at this last season, averaging 3.01 yards on “cloud of dust” carries.

Note this: Oakland is averaging just 2.26 yards on cloud of dust rushes, ranked 26th.

Note this too: Both defenses have been adept at limiting cloud of dust rushing plays as New England ranks sixth (2.20) and Oakland is fourth (2.11).

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* – The Raiders have rushed for a league high eight touchdowns this season. No other team has more than four. They haven’t led the league in rushing TD’s since 1982, back in Marcus Allen’s heyday.

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* – The Pats (ahem, Tom Brady) threw four interceptions on first down last week, becoming just the 7th team to do that since they began tracking the stat in 1991.

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* – Oakland has been a terrific late game passing team so far in 2011. In the fourth quarter they’ve posted an NFL best +7.07 rating (that’s my rating, based mainly on net yards per pass play compared to NFL average), thanks to 76 percent completions (13-for-17) for 221 yards, no sacks, and two touchdowns vs. one interception.

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* – New England’s Devin McCourty has been thrown at 37 times already this season, by far the most in the league:

37 – McCourty, NE
30 – Williams, BAL
24 – McClain, OAK

Through three weeks last season, McCourty had only been thrown at 20 times and ended last year averaging 6.3 targets per game, about half of his average so far this season.

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* – The Patriots’ defense has suffered only six broken tackles, a “tackle success” of 96.9 percent, fourth best in the NFL so far. Oakland, with a 95.0 percent rate, ranks 22nd.

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* – Wes Welker already has 96 yards after contact, almost 70 percent of his total from all of last season. As a team, Patriots’ receivers are averaging 2.55 yards after contact per catch, ranked third in the league:

2.79 – Jets
2.72 – Giants
2.55 – Patriots

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* – Oakland leads the NFL with 555 rushing yards, but only 206 (37.1 percent) have come after contact, the third lowest/worst percentage in the league:

35.2% – Dolphins
36.6% – Bears
37.1% – Raiders

NFL Note: An NFL-high 77.6 percent of Cleveland’s rushing yards (201-of-259) have come after contact.

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* – The Raiders are already in what seems like their “normal” spot: Leading the league in penalties (30) and penalty yards (271). They’ve also already allowed a league high 16 first downs via penalty. They led the league last year as well with 148 penalties, 1279 penalty yards, and 44 penalty first downs allowed.

Note this: New England has been dinged for five offensive holding penalties and six false starts already. At this point last season, they had been flagged for only two holds and three false starts.

Note this too: The Patriots have been called for roughing the passer three times in three weeks, the most in the NFL so far. They were flagged for roughing the passer only twice during ALL of last season.

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* – The Raiders are averaging 15.7 points in the second quarter this season, easily tops in the NFL. Last year, they ranked 25th in second quarter scoring (5.6) but led the league in first quarter scoring (7.3). Realizing that it is still early, but the Raiders are on pace to score 251 second quarter points this season. Since they began tracking the stat 20 years ago, no team has even reached 200 second period points in a season.

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* – Oakland has scored eight touchdowns and two field goals on their 10 red zone drives, a league high average of 6.2 points per:

6.2 – Raiders
6.1 – Bills
5.8 – Giants

The Patriots rank sixth at 5.4.

Note this: The Patriots have already held their opponents without points on 4-of-14 red zone drives this season (29 percent), third highest/best rate in the league.

They were second last season, denying opponents 20 percent of the time.

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* – The Patriots have been very good at rushing up the middle this season, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, fourth in the league. They went up the middle for 72 yards on 10 carries last week vs. Buffalo. Oakland’s defense against up the middle runs has been porous this year, allowing 4.6 yards (28th).

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* – New England has only eight completions to running backs this season and over their last five games (dating back to last season) have only two such completions for first downs. Over their previous 45 games, they AVERAGED two completions for first downs to running backs per game.

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* – So the Patriots have a league high 22 pass plays of 20 or more yards so far this season, but only 24 percent of passing yards against Oakland’s defense have come on pass plays of 20+ yards, the lowest percentage in the league. Which will win out?

Note this: Last season, 46 percent of pass yards against Oakland came on long pass plays, the third HIGHEST percentage in the league.

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* – After leading the league last season, Tom Brady is currently the fifth most accurate passer in the league as 71.4 percent of his throws have been considered “catchable”. Along those same lines, Patriots’ receivers have dropped only 2.1 percent of catchable balls (2-of-95), the seoncd lowest/best percentage in the league:

1.4% – Redskins
2.1% – Patriots
2.5% – Titans

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* – So far in 2011, Oakland’s kickoff return average (16.1 on seven returns) is the lowest in the league. However, keep in mind that their three kickoff return touchdowns last season and five since 2008 lead the NFL.

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This isn’t football related but here it is anyway: Some of you may have heard of the test you can take where you try to name/write down all 50 states in less than 10 minutes without using a map? I finally took it… and had 49 of them in just over three minutes, but never figured out which one I was missing until time ran out. Sorry about that, Minnesota.

Finally, I’d like to dedicate this post to my wife, Delaine, who has been my hero and rock for going on 30 years. She had knee replacement surgery on Thursday and was up and (slowly) walking around the next day.  She never ceases to amaze me.

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Enjoy the game!

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