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Nuggetpalooza: Patriots vs Jets Preview

10.08.11 at 9:30 am ET
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Another Sunday, another big one for the Patriots as they host the Jets in Foxboro. Here are some numbers that struck me:

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* – New England’s Stevan Ridley rushed for 97 yards on 10 carries last Sunday, good for a 9.7 yard average. It was the highest average by a Patriots’ rusher in his first game with 10 or more carries since at least 1970:

9.7 – Stevan Ridley, 2011
7.3 – Robert Perryman, 1987
6.9 – Andy Johnson, 1975
6.9 – Don Calhoun, 1975
6.8 – Steve Grogan, 1977

In the last 41 years (since 1970), 1,116 different NFL players have experienced their first game with 10 or more carries. Ridley’s 9.7 average was the 6th highest out of those 1,116 (non-QB’s). Here are the top three:

10.7 – Troy Hambrick, DAL, 2001
10.4 – Gil Fenerty, NO, 1990
10.4 – Tony Galbreath, NO, 1976

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* – New England has put up a touchdown on their first offensive possession in all four games this season. The Jets have allowed two opening possession touchdowns. With 35 “first possession” points (first and second halves combined), the Patriots lead the league:

35 – Patriots
31 – Cowboys
28 – Packers

Note this: On their first possession of the second half, New York has wound up punting the ball away all four times.

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* – The Patriots have scored a touchdown in the first quarter in nine consecutive games, one shy of the longest in the NFL since 1997:

10 – Chargers (2009-2010)
9 – Patriots (2010-2011)
9 – Titans (2004-2005)

Note this: In three of the last nine games, the Patriots have scored TWO touchdowns in the first quarter. The Jets have not scored two first quarter TD’s in a game in any of their last 29 games.

Note this too: After not allowing a first quarter TD until their EIGHTH game last season, the Jets have allowed four in their first four games this year.

Only St. Louis (7) and New Orleans (5) have allowed more.

Worthless Fact: Since 1997, the Patriots have allowed an average of 5.6 first quarter TD’s per season, easily the fewest in the league in that span (the Jets rank second at 6.0).

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* – Patriots’ opponents are averaging an incredible 8.83 yards on first down through four weeks. Not only is that last in the league, but it’s on pace to be the worst in the NFL since 2000 by a WIDE margin:

8.83 – Patriots, 2011 (through four weeks)
6.80 – Lions, 2008
6.57 – Redskins, 2010
6.52 – Texans, 2010

The Patriots’ worst showing from 2000 through 2010? They allowed an average of 5.93 yards on first down in 2005. I’d say that mark is in serious trouble.

Note this: While the Patriots have the worst first down defense in the league, the Jets have the best, allowing an average of 3.97 yards on first down.

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* – The Patriots did not force Oakland into any three and outs last Sunday, the second time this year that New England’s defense failed to record a three and out, equalling the number they had during all of last season. The Rams are the only other defense with two such games this season. Since the start of last season, the Pats have forced three and outs more than four times in only one game. In that same span, the Jets defense has had SEVEN such games.

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* – New England tallied seven rushes of 10 or more yards last Sunday, snapping a 36-game streak with fewer such runs. It was the second time this season that the Raiders have allowed seven or more such runs in a game.

Note this: The Patriots have not allowed 7+ runs of 10 or more yards in a game since 2002, a streak of 134 games, third longest in the league behind Baltimore (213, since 1997) and Dallas (167, since 2000).

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* – The Jets have scored three miscellaneous touchdowns this year (an interception return, kickoff return, and blocked punt return), tied for the second most in the league. But they’ve also ALLOWED three miscellaneous touchdowns (an interception return and two fumble returns), tied for the most in the league.

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* – The Patriots have already allowed 30 pass plays of 20 or more yards and 56% of opponents’ passing yardage has come on those plays (both are league highs). New England allowed only 55 big pass plays during all of 2010 and only 34% of opponents’ passing yardage came on big plays (eighth lowest/best in the NFL). The Jets have allowed only 10 such pass plays this season.

NFL Note: After only three touchdown pass plays from outside the 20-yard line all year last year, the Arizona Cardinals already have four such pass plays for scores this season.

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* – New England’s offense ranks fourth in the league at converting third downs into first downs (52.4%) but the Jets defense is tied for first at preventing third down conversions:

26.0% – Jets
26.0% – Redskins
32.1% – Bengals

Note this: The Jets have allowed 50% or higher third down conversions just once in their last 19 games, while the Patriots’ defense, sporting a league worst third down conversion percentage (48.0%) has allowed 50% or better eight times in that span.

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* – There has not yet been a fourth down conversion in a Jets game this season. The Jets offense has been unsuccessful in all three tries and their opponents have tried one time and didn’t convert.

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* – Only 56.7% of Tom Brady’s throws last Sunday were considered “catchable”, ranking New England just 25th in passing accuracy. That has dropped him/NE to eighth for the season at 68.7% catchable. Let’s see if we can get a little better idea of what’s going on, using “my” passing ratings (which basically compares net yards per attempt to the league average for each stat split):

1st Down: Last Sunday was the second week in a row where Brady’s rating (-1.27) was negative on first down passing. Last week, it was the four first down picks. This week, it was going just 5-for-13. His rating has been negative on first down in six of his last 10 road games and just one of his last 10 home games.

3rd and Long: Brady was 0-for-3 with a sack on third down and eight yards or more last Sunday. It was the first time that a Patriots’ QB has gone 0-for-3+ in that down/distance situation since 2006 in Miami, 70 games ago.

Throws of 21+ yards: Brady took an 0-for-5 collar Sunday on long throws, the first 0-for-5+ on such throws by a Patriots’ QB since a 16-9 loss to the Jets in Week 2 of the 2009 season. So far this year, Brady is 5-for-16 on those throws for a rating of -0.13, ranked 13th. Remember that last season, the Patriots threw fewer balls 21 or more yards downfield than any team in the NFL (36), but managed a +4.07 rating when they did, good for second in the league.

Right Side throws: Brady completed just 3-of-10 passes to the right side of the field last Sunday, leading to a rating of -0.28. In his previous two games, he had hit on 27-of-38 right side passes (71%). Even with that bad week, Brady still has the third highest rating in the league this year on right side throws:

+3.56 – Lions (Matt Stafford)
+2.75 – Packers (Aaron Rodgers)
+2.40 – Patriots (Tom Brady)

Note this: The Jets have been third best in the NFL at defending against right side passes this season:

-4.20 – Ravens
-2.80 – Texans
-2.53 – Jets

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* – On average, Patriots’ opponents have started their drives at their own 21.4 yard line, giving the Pats the best defensive starting field position in the league so far:

21.4 – Patriots
22.9 – Buccaneers
24.2 – Bengals

Despite the fact that their average offensive starting field position (29.1) ranks just 14th, they still rank first in net field position (+7.7), nearly a yard better than the second ranked Redskins (+6.8).

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* – New England remains the only NFL team that has yet to commit a fumble this season. The Jets have put the ball on the ground nine times in four games, losing five of them.

NFL Notes: Detroit has fumbled six times, but has recovered all six… Pittsburgh has fumbled six times, and has lost all six… Dallas and St. Louis have each fumbled 12 times to lead the league… The Chiefs have fumbled six times on offense (losing five) and their opponents have fumbled five times and recovered them all. This means that there have been 11 fumbles in Chiefs games this season and Kansas City has fallen on just one.

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* – The Jets are the only team with three kickoff returns of 40+ yards this season. Minnesota, Cleveland, and Houston each have two. New England is one of 19 teams with none. On the flip side, the Patriots, Jets, and 49ers are the only three teams that have allowed 10 or more kickoff returns but NONE for 30 yards or more. 11 of the 14 kickoff returns against the Jets have been stopped short of even 20 yards.

Note this: Only 54% of kickoffs by the Jets have reached the end zone this season, the lowest percentage in the league. 76% of kickoffs by the Patriots have reached the end zone (25th) and 40% have gone for touchbacks (also 25th).

NFL Note: All kickoffs this season by the Colts (16), Ravens (24), and Rams (14) have reached the end zone.

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* – Here are the top five defensive backs in the NFL according to lowest “Burn Percentage” (Completions Allowed/Times Targeted; Min. 12 times targeted):

17.4% – Ike Taylor, PIT (4-of-23)
23.1% – Darrelle Revis, NYJ (3-for-13)
33.3% – TJ Ward, CLE (6-of-18)
34.4% – Nate Clements, CIN (11-of-32)
35.3% – Eric Smith, NYJ (6-of-17)

Two Jets in there. A New England DB doesn’t appear until Kyle Arrington’s 52.6% (10-of-19). The NFL average is 59.1%.

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Got questions, comments, or suggestions? Leave it here, send me an email (GMarbry@weei.com), or let’s have a discussion on Twitter (@nuggetpalooza). Enjoy the game!

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