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Nuggetpalooza: Colts at Patriots!

12.03.11 at 12:37 pm ET
By

Well, they can’t all be blockbuster games. As the 0-11 Colts stagger into Gillette tomorrow, I’ve got the usual collection of Colts and Patriots nuggets, plus some leftovers from Thanksgiving weekend, and some random NFL notes, including some scheduling stuff that surprised me:

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* – The Patriots have scored points on 17 of their 21 drives that lasted 10 or more plays this season, and while the Colts began the season scoring on 11-of-14, they have not scored on any of their five such drives in their last three games.

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* – Indianapolis’ offense has been forced into four or more three-and-outs in eight of their 11 games this season. Compare that to the Pats, who are the only team in the league that has not had more than three three-and-outs in any game this season.

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* – The Colts’ defense is on their way to possibly setting a dubious NFL record: Highest conversion percentage allowed on 3rd-and-6+:

41.0% – Colts, 2011
40.5% – Ravens, 1996
39.6% – Saints, 1998

NFL Note: After allowing only two conversions on 3rd-and-10 or more over their first six games, the Bengals have allowed a whopping 11 such conversions over their last five (11-of-30, 37%). Six different teams have allowed only one such conversion in that span.

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* – The Colts and Browns are the only NFL teams that have not scored a touchdown on their opening possession of the second half this season.

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* – I’m telling you, they bend but they don’t always break: The Patriots have allowed a whopping 58 pass plays of 20 or more yards this season, already the most ever allowed in a season by a Patriots defense, the most in the league so far this season (by a lot), and on pace for 84 by the end of the season, which would shatter the existing record (since 1995) of 72 allowed by the 2004 Chiefs (the only team to allow more than 65 in a season).

However, they’ve allowed only TWO touchdown passes from 20 yards or more, tied for the FEWEST in the league this season and could challenge the fewest ever allowed (again, they began tracking the stat in 1995) by a Patriots defense (they allowed three in 2001 and 2003).

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* – So far in 2011, 58.6% of Colts’ passes (mainly thrown by Curtis Painter) have been considered catchable, but that’s only third worst in the NFL this season:

55.3% – Jaguars
58.3% – Broncos
58.6% – Colts

Tom Brady and the Patriots are currently fifth (69.1%):

77.3% – Packers
74.2% – Saints
69.8% – 49ers
69.2% – Cowboys
69.1% – Patriots

NFL Note: The Packers (Aaron Rodgers mainly) have completed 21-of-34 long passes (thrown more than 20 yards downfield) this season. That 61.8% completion rate is better than the OVERALL completion percentage of 22 of the 32 teams in the league. Only one team since 1992 has finished a season with a completion percentage above even 50%: The 2006 Saints (51.7%). So barring something unusual, that record is going down this year.

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* – The Colts are averaging just 15.2 first downs per game, the fewest in the league. The Patriots are allowing an average of 22.7 first downs per game, the most in the league. Should make for an interesting day!

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* – Indianapolis’ puny 18.0 kickoff return average is last in the league and would be the third lowest since 2000:

17.0 – Browns, 2010
17.7 – Giants, 2001
18.0 – Colts, 2011

It would be the lowest by the Colts since they averaged 17.9 in 1982. That was the only season since 1970 (prior to this one) that the Colts have finished last in kickoff return average.

Note this: The Colts kickoff coverage team has been the league’s worst this season as well, allowing an average of 35.8 yards per return. Only three teams since 1970 have finished last in kickoff return average and kickoff coverage (average allowed) in the same season: 1976 Saints, 1988 Chiefs, and 2009 Raiders.

And this: All 39 of the Colts kickoffs this season have reached the end zone, the only team in the league to do that 100% of the time. Only 73% of the Patriots’ kickoffs have reached the end zone (50-of-68), ranked 26th. Perhaps leg fatigue is an issue: New England kicks off an average of 6.2 times per game, while the Colts are averaging just 3.5 kickoffs per game.

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* – The Colts pass defense has allowed a passing rating (the NFL’s official rating) of 108.6 this season, by far their worst since at least 1970:

108.6 – 2011 Colts
100.6 – 1981 Colts
97.3 – 1982 Colts

They have an outside shot at the worst defensive passing rating in the NFL since 1970:

110.9 – Lions, 2008
108.6 – Colts, 2011
107.3 – Oilers, 1982

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* – NFL Note: The Houston Texans managed to win at Jacksonville last Sunday despite managing only nine first downs, becoming the only team in 2011 to win a game with fewer than 10 first downs. It was the second time in their history that they’ve won that way. The other was back in 2002, when they moved the chains only THREE times but throttled the Steelers ON THE ROAD, 24-6. Houston had only 47 total yards in that game (the fewest ever by a winning team breaking the old mark of 51 set by the 1960 and 1942 Giants) as their scoring came on a 40-yard fumble return, interception returns of 70 and 65 yards, and a 43-yard field goal.

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* – NFL Note II: You’ve heard coaches moan and groan about having a short week after playing on Monday night. Did you know that about 56% of teams that play on Monday night one week get to play at home the next? But it varies from team to team. Cincinnati has been saddled with a road game following each of their last eight Monday night appearances (dating back 20 years), and they’ve lost all eight. But Dallas has gotten a home game following 22 of their last 28 Monday-nighters and the Chiefs, 18 of their last 22. Since moving to Phoenix, the Cardinals have played on Monday eight times, then had a road game following six of them. Since 2005, Baltimore has played a home game following 11 of their 12 Monday night tilts (and STILL went 5-7). Chicago has played at home after nine of their last 11 MNF games and won eight of those 11.

Finally, and this is really apropos of nothing, but did you know that from 1977 through 1993 the Redskins won 27 of 29 games following a Monday night appearance?

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* – Thanksgiving Weekend Leftovers: New England has won eight of their last 11 Thanksgiving weekend games, while the Eagles have dropped four of their last six and allowed an average of 31.5 points in the process… Arizona won on Thanksgiving weekend for the first time since 2001, snapping a nine-game losing streak… Since 1990, the Dolphins have played on the road in 20 of their 22 holiday weekend games. Five of those were Thanksgiving Day road games at Dallas (4) and at Detroit (1). Considering that, it’s remarkable that they’ve gone 14-8 in those games… Last Sunday’s loss to the Falcons snapped a seven-game Thanksgiving weekend winning streak by the Vikings… Pittsburgh has now played 18 of their last 22 holiday weekend games at home. Two of their four road games in that stretch were on Thursday (one each at Dallas and Detroit).

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* – Tryptophan hangover or just bad?: Detroit has won just one of their last 13 games played the week AFTER they play on a Thursday.

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Enjoy your football weekend!

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