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Nuggetpalooza: Patriots vs Eagles!

11.26.11 at 9:56 am ET
By

It’s Week 12, and the Patriots head to Philly to face the Eagles in what will probably be a much tougher game than the records indicate. Take a couple of minutes between leftovers and gorge on some Patriots and Eagles numbers to get you ready:

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* – The Patriots had 234 passing yards Monday, with 183 of them coming after the catch (78.2%). It was their 2nd highest percentage since they began tracking the stat in 1992 and both came against the Chiefs AND BOTH CAME ON MONDAY NIGHTS (min. 185 total passing yards):

85.1% – vs Chiefs (12/4/2000)
78.2% – vs Chiefs (11/21/2011)
76.7% – vs Eagles (12/19/1999)

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* – With seven interceptions, Kyle Arrington has the league lead all by himself so far. Did you know that only one Patriots player has ever led the league in interceptions in a season outright (i.e. not tied)? That’s right. Ty Law led the league in 1998:

9 – Ty Law, Patriots
8 – Terrell Buckley, Dolphins
8 – Kwame Lassiter, Cardinals
8 – Sam Madison, Dolphins

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* – The Eagles lead the NFL in rushing yards per game (168.0) and rushing average per carry (5.64) this season. In their history, they’ve led the league in yards per game only three times: 1944, 1949, and 1990. However, it would be the second consecutive year in which they’ve led the league in rushing average, after putting up a 5.42 mark last season. Since 1970, three other teams have led the league in rushing average in consecutive seasons: 1992-93 49ers, 1998-99
49ers, and the 2004-05-06 Falcons.

In addition, their 62 rushes of 10 or more yards, an average of 6.2 such runs per game, is lapping the league (Denver is second with 50) and almost 66% of their rushing yards have come on runs of 10+ yards, another league high. Those 6.2 long runs per game is on pace to be the highest such average since they began tracking the stat in 1991:

6.2 – Eagles, 2011
5.4 – Vikings, 2007
5.4 – Falcons, 2006
5.3 – Steelers, 2001
5.1 – Dolphins, 2002

When they run right, they’ve averaged 6.66 yards (1st), compared to 5.27 yards up the middle (2nd), and 5.18 yards to the left (6th).

Two last points about the Eagles running game: First, the Patriots rushing defense (104 yards/game and 4.31 yards/rush) both rank around the middle of the pack this season. Second, with Michael Vick not available last week, the Eagles rushed for only 4.1 yards/carry, their lowest average of the season, but it kept alive their streak of 23 consecutive games averaging 4.0 yards or better, the longest current streak in the league.

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* – Are you one of those concerned with the Patriots’ recent first half scoring woes? Well, they have slumped recently: After averaging 18.0 first half points over their first four games, they’ve averaged just 9.3 over their last six. But guess what? Last season, they averaged 18.3 first half points over their first three games, then just 8.3 over their next six, before rebounding to average a whopping 21.4 over their last seven games.

Note this: Tom Brady may already be snapping out of it (despite first half completion percentages that have been a bit un-Brady-like). Over the season’s first four weeks, New England’s first half passing rating (my rating, based primarily on net yards per pass play compared to the league average) was +3.50, tops in the league. From Week 5 through Week 9, it was -0.11 (14th in that span). But over the last two weeks, it’s rebounded to +3.92 (3rd over the two-week period).

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* – You want to be concerned? Here’s one: After converting 53.6% of their third down tries over the season’s first six weeks (3rd best), the Patriots have converted just 31.4% over their last four (16-of-51), ranked 25th in that span. They’ve been 33% or worse in each one of the last four, their longest such streak since they went five straight games at 33% or worse way back in 1992.

Note this: The Eagles have converted greater than 50% of their third downs in three of their last four games, just the second time since they began tracking the stat in 1991 that Philly has been over 50% in three games out of four (Weeks 13-15, 2008).

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* – Dear Tom, please be careful throwing the ball when pinned deep in your own territory this weekend. Thanks much. Yours truly, Nuggetpalooza. The Eagles pass defense has been particularly stingy this season when the opposing offense is pinned inside their own 20-yard-line, putting up a defensive passing rating of -7.35, second best in the league:

-7.84 – Texans (43% completions, 8.5% interceptions, and sacks totaling 15% of gross pass yards)
-7.35 – Eagles (49% completions, 9.1% interceptions, and sacks totaling 11% of gross pass yards)
-5.23 – Redskins (54% ; 6.3% ; 4%)

Curious about the Patriots’ pass defense when they have their opponents in a field position hole? Here you go:

-1.50 – ranked 15th (63% completions, 4.9% interceptions, zero sacks in 41 such attempts, most such attempts without a sack in NFL);

And the Patriots’ offense when pinned inside their 20:

+0.50 – ranked 8th (68% completions, 2.1% interceptions, sacks 4% of gross yards);

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* – Philadelphia’s interception percentage when their opponent doesn’t blitz: 2.7%. When facing a blitzing defense: 8.4%. That’s on pace to be the highest/worst interception percentage against blitzes in the NFL since they began tracking the stat in 1991:

8.4% – Eagles, 2011
8.2% – Saints, 1997
7.6% – Jets, 1995
7.3% – Giants, 1995

Note this: The Patriots’ defense has intercepted 6.1% of opponent passes when blitzing, ranked third in the league this year and on pace to be the second highest/best percentage ever by New England. Only the 1996 defense, at 7.3%, has been better.

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* – You’ve noticed the improved pass rush by the Patriots recently, right? After causing a hurry or getting a quarterback knockdown on 20% or more of opponent pass plays just once in their first seven games, here are the Patriots last three games: 28%, 25%, 22%.

Note this: While no defense has had a streak greater than four games this year of getting a hurry or QB knockdown on 20% or more of opponent pass plays, the Eagles offense *ALLOWED* 20% or more “QB hassles” in each of their first nine games (with Vick at quarterback), then just 14% in last week’s game (with Vince Young under center). Cleveland is the only other offense in the league that has allowed 20% or more QB hassles in nine of their 10 games. Contrast that with the Saints and Titans, who have allowed 20% or more hassles just once each in 10 games.

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* – One of those “little things” that will many times spell the difference between a great season and a disappointing one is Red Zone Efficiency. This season, Red Zone Efficiency has helped the Eagles year go off the rails. On offense, Philly has averaged just 4.11 points per red zone drive (26th), managing just 44% touchdowns (26th), and turning the ball over a league leading eight times. On defense, they’ve allowed 5.42 average points (31st), allowed 69% touchdowns (last), and forced just one turnover.

Note this: New England’s red zone numbers: Offense: 5.16 average points (4th), 62% touchdowns (3rd), and two turnovers. Defense: 4.33 average points allowed (10th), 50% touchdowns (14th), and five turnovers forced.

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Enjoy the game! Want to discuss any of this? I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment, shoot me an email (gmarbry@weei.com), or find me on twitter (@nuggetpalooza).

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