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Nuggetpalooza: Patriots at Jets!

11.12.11 at 10:03 am ET
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The Patriots head to New York to face the hated Jets in Week 10, trying to right the ship after consecutive losses to the Steelers and Giants. Don’t be surprised when this week’s preview is fairly heavy on “last two games” trends.

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* – Last Sunday, the Patriots turned it over four times, their third game with four turnovers this season, the most such games in the NFL. Only two other teams have even had two games with 4+ turnovers: The Chiefs and Chargers. Through nine weeks, the Patriots turnover margin stands at zero (14 turnovers, 14 takeaways). They’ve had more takeaways than turnovers in each of the last five seasons, the longest current streak in the NFL.

NFL Note: Since 1990, the longest streak of consecutive seasons with positive net turnovers is 11, by the Kansas City Chiefs (1990-2000). The Colts had a NEGATIVE turnover margin for seven consecutive seasons from 1996-2002, the longest such streak since 1990.

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* – Much was said about the 0-0 halftime tie last Sunday (the first in a Patriots game since 1993), but it was the first time in 16 games that the Patriots had gone to the break in a tie game. They’ve now won just three of the last seven games that were tied at halftime.

Note this: The Giants have now been tied at halftime in FOUR games this season. Prior to this season, they were tied at half in four of their previous 108 games.

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* – Brady threw for nine first downs on first down passes last Sunday, a mark eclipsed only twice by the Patriots since the start of the 2004 season (124 games). Those two were in 2006 at Minnesota and in Week 2 of this season against San Diego. You see, the best way of staying out of difficult third down situations is to move the chains on first or second down. For the season, the Patriots have thrown for first downs on first down a league leading 56 times this season, more than 14 different teams had all year last year:

56 – Patriots
49 – Saints
45 – Giants
45 – Chargers

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* – The Giants managed to complete just 4-of-13 passes on third down last Sunday (31%), the lowest such completion percentage allowed by New England since 2006 (min. 10+ third down pass attempts).

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* – The Giants attempted 39 passes last Sunday and the Patriots recorded no sacks, the third time this season that New England hasn’t recorded a sack despite 35 or more pass attempts by their opponent. Prior to this year they had only had one such game since 2005, covering 37 games of 35 or more attempts.

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* – If you’re a regular reader of my football previews, you already know that when I reference passing rating, it has nothing to do with the NFL’s convoluted version. My rating is calculated by taking the net yards per pass play for the situational stat being analyzed (including sacks), then making a positive adjustment for touchdown passes and a bigger negative adjustment for interceptions. From that, subtract the league average net yards per pass play for that situation to get the rating. Therefore, if a team’s net yards per pass play equals the league average and they have no touchdowns or interceptions, then their rating will be zero.

This season, New England’s opponent passing rating has been greater than zero in every game this season, one shy of the club’s longest streak since 2002 (a nine-gamer in 2005). Every other NFL team has forced their opponent into a negative rating at least once this season. Detroit’s opponents have put up negative ratings in seven of eight games. No team since 2002 (at least) has ever allowed positive ratings in every game in a season.

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* – After racking up 30 pass plays of 20 yards or more over their first five games, and average of six per game, the Patriots have just eight total over their last three games.

Note this: The Jets allowed a touchdown pass from 20+ yards in Week 1, but have not allowed one since.

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* – The Patriots still lead the NFL in first down efficiency (gains of four or more yards 56.0% of the time of first down), but have been at just 50% over the last two weeks. The Jets have allowed gains of 4+ yards on just 44.2% of first down plays this season.

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* – After forcing the Jets into seven three and outs the first time they met (only Jacksonville’s defense, with eight in Week 7, had more in a game this season), the Patriots defense has forced a total of just four three and outs over the three games since.

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* – Over the last two weeks, the Patriots are just 1-for-12 (8.3%) on 3rd-and-6 or more, the second worst percentage in the league in that span. Over the season’s first seven weeks, they went 13-for-32 in those situations (40.6%), the second BEST such conversion percentage in that span.

Note this: For the season, New England has only faced 3rd-and-6 or more 44 times, the fewest in the league. That’s good, because the Jets have allowed just 17.9% conversions in such situations this season, the second best percentage in the league:

14.1% – Jaguars (9-for-61)
17.9% – Jets (10-for-56)
17.9% – Redskins (12-for-67)

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* – Through six games, the Pats had scored on 49.2% of their offensive possessions. In the last two games, they’ve scored on just 30% of their drives, ranked just 20th in that span.

Note this: Through Week 7, the Jets defense had allowed points on 26.4% of opponent possessions. In their two games since, opponents have managed points on just 19% of their drives against New York.

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* – When the Patriots scored on that fourth down pass last Sunday, it marked the eighth consecutive game that a Giants opponent had converted at least one fourth down, tying the record set by the Rams in 2004. Keep in mind that they’ve only tracked these stats since 1991.

Note this: Jets opponents are just 1-for-6 when going for it on fourth down this season, the lowest/best percentage in the league (16.7%).

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* – Tom Brady and the Patriots have thrown a league high three interceptions on their opening possession of the second half this season. That equals their total for the 2009 (1) and 2010 (2) seasons combined. The Jets defense has exactly three such interceptions since the beginning of the 2008 season.

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* – Over their first six games, the Patriots led the league by forcing their opponents to begin their drives at their own 23.7 yard line. In the last two games, their average starting position has been the 33.3, ranked 29th in that span.

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* – New England opponents have now scored 40 points following Patriots’ turnovers this season. That’s more than they allowed in the entire 2010 season (24) or 2007 season (21).

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* – Since the start of the 2009 season, the Patriots have failed to put up 100 or more rushing yards ON THE ROAD eight times. They’ve lost seven of those games. They rushed for 83 yards in New York in 2009 (a 16-9 loss) and 52 yards there last season (a 28-14 loss).

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* – Through the first five games this season, the Patriots had fumbled only one time (and they recovered that one). In their three games since then, they have put it on the ground five times, losing four. The last time the Pats lost four or more fumbles over a three game stretch was back in November/December, 2006, when they lost three against the Bears, then two against the Lions, then three against the Dolphins in consecutive weeks.

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* – New York is averaging 30.1 yards per kickoff return this season, not only the highest in the league, but on pace to be the highest average ever in the NFL:

30.1 – Jets, 2011
29.4 – Bears, 1974
29.4 – Vikings, 2011
28.9 – Steelers, 1952

The Jets haven’t led the NFL in kickoff return average in a season since 1984, although they have finished in the top five in six of the last nine seasons prior to this one.

Note this: The Jets have a league high six kickoff returns of 40 yards or more. Since they began tracking the stat in 1995, the Jets have had more than six such returns in a FULL SEASON only twice (seven in 2008 and eight in 2006). No other team has more than three such returns this year.

Note this too: The Jets kickoff coverage currently ranks second in the league, allowing an average of 19.6 yards per return. No team has led the league in kickoff return average and lowest kickoff return average allowed in the same season since the Raiders did it in 1975.

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* – So far in 2011, the Jets and Mark Sanchez have not been able to do much damage with their vertical passing game. On pass attempts thrown more than 20 yards downfield, the Jets are just 4-for-25 for a league low 116 yards. That’s just 6.5% of New York’s total passing yardage, also the lowest/worst in the league. But look which team ranks second lowest/worst:

6.5% – Jets
8.5% – Patriots
9.0% – Falcons

Note this: This was a surprise to me considering “Revis Island” and all: 24% of opponents’ passing yardage has come on passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield, the fourth highest percentage in the league so far this season. Last season, only 11% of pass yards against the Jets came on long throws, the lowest/best percentage in the league.

Note this too: Opponents have already completed 10 such long passes against the Jets and the season is only half over. Compare that to the 19 such pass completions allowed by the Jets over the 2009 and 2010 COMBINED.

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Will the Patriots get back on track this weekend? Stranger things have happened, but it feels like an awfully tough spot for a struggling team.

Got a question or comment? I’d love to hear it. Leave one here, send me an email (GMarbry@weei.com), or call me out on twitter (@Nuggetpalooza). When something statistically interesting happens during the game, I’ll tweet it up, so follow along! Enjoy your football weekend!

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