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Nuggetpalooza: My stats nuggets on the Patriots vs. Ravens AFC Title Game 01.19.13 at 10:35 am ET
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Tomorrow at chilly Gillette, it’s a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and Ravens for a berth in the Super Bowl. The Patriots are a solid favorite, but you can’t take anything for granted in a game like this. Here are some stats that struck me as interesting:

* – The Patriots have recorded at least one takeaway in their last 27 regular season games, the longest current streak in the league. Only the Bengals (15) ended 2012 with a streak of 10 games or more. However, the Patriots have managed only three total takeaways in their last five postseason games, getting one each against Houston, Baltimore, and Denver, but none against the Giants last year and the Jets in January, 2011.

Note this: From 2010-2012, the Patriots are a combined +70 in turnover margin in the regular season, by far the best in the league in that span (Packers +41, 49ers +36). But during that same span in the postseason (five games), New England has a minus-four turnover margin, tied with the Saints for the worst in the league in that span. Baltimore’s +10 is the best postseason turnover margin over the last three seasons.

Note this: Baltimore’s defense has recorded at least one takeaway in all 19 postseason games in franchise history, the third longest postseason streak by any team since the merger in 1970:

31 – Dolphins (1970-1995)
25 – Redskins (1982-2012)
19 – Ravens (2000-2012)
17 – Patriots (2001-2009)

* – During the regular season, Baltimore attempted 85 passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield, the third most in the league. Only the Colts (88) and the Lions (87) tried more. The Ravens were the only NFL team that never threw an interception on a long pass (21+ yards downfield). However, their 9.8 average yards per attempt on those passes ranked just 20th in the league. The 49ers (17.4), Saints (15.8), and the Redskins (15.2) made up the top three. New England’s long passes averaged 10.1 yards per attempt (19th) and suffered three picks.

Note this: While Joe Flacco and the Ravens never threw a pick on a long ball during the season, the Patriots’ pass defense picked off a league high eight such passes out of 78 opponent attempts (also a league high). They had just eight such picks over the previous two seasons combined.

* – Baltimore’s miraculous game-tying touchdown last Saturday came culminated a 77-yard drive in three plays. In the last two regular seasons combined, the Ravens had only two touchdown drives of 75 yards or more that took three plays or less, the fewest such touchdowns in the league in that span. The second fewest such touchdowns? The New England Patriots, with three. Only one of those came this season, the 83-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Shane Vereen early in the second quarter on Thanksgiving night against the Jets.

Note this: Which team led the NFL in such “quick strike” touchdowns over the last two seasons? The Titans, with 10.

* – The Patriots allowed 14 touchdowns of 20 yards or more this season, their most since allowing a league high 20 back in 1995. It was just the third time in the 18 seasons that they’ve tracked the stat that they’ve allowed 10 or more such touchdowns. They allowed only 13 such touchdowns in the 2010 and 2011 seasons combined.

Note this: The Pats allowed a 25-yard touchdown pass last week against Houston (Schaub to Posey in the fourth quarter) and one in last year’s AFC Championship Game against the Ravens (29 yards, Flacco to Torrey Smith in the third quarter).

Note this too: Baltimore had THREE touchdowns of 20 or more yards in last Saturday’s win at Denver. Since 2000, the Ravens have scored three such touchdowns in a game (regular season or playoffs) only one other time (2009 against the Vikings). Read the rest of this entry »

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Nuggetpalooza: Mining the stats before the Patriots vs. Texans playoff tilt 01.11.13 at 1:35 pm ET
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The Patriots’ road to Super Bowl XLVII gets underway Sunday afternoon against the Houston Texans, who New England manhandled, 42-14, back in Week 14. Get ready with some statistical nuggets that jumped out at me:

* – Houston has failed to score a first half touchdown in their last three straight games (including last week), their longest such streak since they went four games in a row back in 2005 (128 games ago). The Patriots haven’t gone TWO straight games without a first half touchdown since Weeks 2 and 3, 2008, right after Tom Brady went down to injury.

* – When the Patriots drove inside their opponents’ 30-yard-line this season, they generally made the most of the opportunities, scoring touchdowns 63% of the time, the second highest rate in the league. Houston’s offense ranked 13th (46%). In their wild card win over the Bengals last week, Houston drove to or inside the 30 on five different occasions, but managed only one touchdown to go with four field goals.

* – New England has won their last 20 (and 31 of their last 32) home games in which they’ve scored a first quarter touchdown. That’s the longest such streak since at least 1995:

20 – Patriots, 2011-2012
17 – Ravens, 2006-2007
16 – Colts, 2006-2007
15 – Eagles, 2004-2005
15 – Rams, 2003

Note this: The Patriots are 7-0 all-time at home in the playoffs when they score a first quarter touchdown.

* – The Patriots were “Kings of the Long Drive” in 2012, putting up an NFL-high 41 drives lasting 10 or more plays. That tied their club (and league) record that they set in 2007. Thing is, Houston’s defense allowed only 17 such drives this season, the fewest in the league.

Note this: When Houston’s opponent did cobble together a drive of 10 or more plays, they generally cashed those drives in for points, to the tune of 4.35 points on average, the second highest such average allowed in the league. I think you’ll recognize the only defense that allowed more per 10 play drive:

4.40 – Patriots
4.35 – Texans
4.35 – Eagles
4.33 – Raiders

Note this too: New England’s defense allowed scores on 19 of the first 20 drives of 10 or more plays against their defense this season (11 touchdowns and eight field goals, an average of 5.05 points per drive). However they closed the season allowing just three field goals over the last five such drives. When these two teams matched up in Week 14, the Patriots had one such drive, resulting in a touchdown, while Houston’s one long drive did not result in points. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nuggetpalooza: All the stats as Patriots close regular season against Dolphins 12.28.12 at 11:15 am ET
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The Patriots, still clinging to slim hopes of grabbing a playoff bye, close out the regular season with a matchup against the pesky Dolphins this Sunday in Foxboro. Get ready with some numbers that I thought you might find interesting.

* – Since 2000, most career passing yards in the season’s final week:

2,190 – Tom Brady
2,179 – Brett Favre
1,866 – Matt Hasselbeck

* – New England has won nine of its last 11 games on the final week of the season, including 4-of-5 on the road in that stretch.

Note this: The Packers have closed out nine straight (and 18-of-19) regular seasons with victories.

Note this, too: I noticed that somebody published the stat that the Cowboys have lost 10-of-12 regular-season finales. But once I looked at it, I found it interesting that they failed to mention that Dallas has won two of the last three. Guess THAT didn’t fit the agenda.

* – The Patriots have scored at least one rushing touchdown in each of their last eight games against the Dolphins, their longest such streak ever against Miami. However, it’s not their longest such streak against any opponent, as they ran for a score in 18 straight games against the Colts (1974-1983) and 15 against the Bills (1969-1979).

* – The Dolphins have ripped off a run of 10 or more yards in each of their last 33 games, dating back to Dec. 26, 2010. That’s the longest current streak in the league. 10 teams have registered a rushing play of 10 or more yards in every game this season, including the Dolphins (obviously) and the Patriots. If New England can extend that streak on Sunday, it would be the fourth season since 2000 that they’ve managed a run of 10 or more yards in every game.

* – The Patriots have 416 first downs this season, tied with the 2011 Saints for the most sine they began tracking the stat. Those two teams are the only ones to break 400 first downs in a season. The old Patriots club record was 399, by last year’s team.

* – New England has a great chance to set the club record for third-down conversion percentage:

48.6 percent – Patriots, 2012
48.2 percent – Patriots, 2010
48.2 percent – Patriots, 2007

* – All-time leaders in passing touchdowns against the Dolphins:

37 – Tom Brady
30 – Drew Bledsoe
26 – Joe Ferguson
25 – Ken O’Brien
24 – Jim Kelly

Note this: Brady has thrown 51 TD passes against the Bills, his most against any single opponent.

Note this, too: In Brady’s seven games against the Dolphins since the start of the 2009 season, he’s managed only one touchdown pass in four of those games.

* – The Patriots are 445 total yards away from their club record of 6,848, set last year. Their current total of 6,403 is their third-best mark for a season. Only five teams since 1970 (including last season’s Patriots) have accumulated 6,800 or more total yards in a season. The record is 7,474, by the 2011 Saints. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nuggetpalooza: Cool stat nuggets previewing Patriots-Jaguars 12.21.12 at 9:59 am ET
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The Patriots hit the road this Sunday against the 2-13 Jaguars in Jacksonville. After Sunday night’s tough loss against San Francisco, the last thing the Pats need is for that loss to beat them again this week. Here are some stats that struck me:

* – Last weekend’s NFL games were decided by an average of 18.7 points, the sixth-most lopsided week since the merger in 1970:

23.5 – 1970, Week 14
20.3 – 1973, Week 13
20.3 – 2009, Week 7
18.9 – 1976, Week 13
18.7 – 2012, Week 15
18.6 – 1976, Week 14

* – Jacksonville has led at some point in each of its last five games. Since 2009, the Jaguars have only had one longer streak (seven in 2010).

Note this: The Patriots never led against the 49ers, snapping a streak of 22 consecutive games in which they held a lead at some point.

* – The 41 points allowed by the Patriots snapped a streak of 117 straight games allowing fewer than 40, which was the longest active streak in the league and their longest such streak since at least 1970:

117 – 2005-2012
106 – 1998-2005
69 – 1979-1984

Note this: The longest such streak in the NFL since 1970 is 182 games, by the 49ers from 1982-1994:

182 – 49ers, 1982-1994
156 – Eagles, 1975-1985
152 – Redskins, 1971-1981

Note this, too: The longest active streak in the league is now 104 games, by the Steelers.

One last thing: New England hasn’t allowed 40 or more points in a road game since Dec. 16, 1995 (a 41-27 loss to Pittsburgh), a streak of 136 straight games, the longest in the NFL since 1970:

136 – Patriots, 1995-2012
134 – 49ers, 1980-1997
127 – Giants, 1980-1996

* – In their history, the Jaguars are 1-11 against teams that enter the game with 10 or more wins. Only the Browns (0-13), Lions (1-17) and Raiders (1-12) have been worse in such games in that span.

Note this: Green Bay (10-4) and Dallas (9-5) have the best records against teams entering with 10+ wins in that span.

* – The Jaguars have not returned an interception for a touchdown in 73 games (week six, 2008), by far the longest active streak in the league:

73 – Jaguars
30 – Raiders
24 – Chiefs

Note this: The Patriots have returned 11 picks for touchdowns since Jacksonville has done it. The Jaguars have returned 11 interceptions for touchdowns IN THEIR HISTORY, spanning almost 18 seasons.

Note this, too: The longest such streak in the NFL is 118 games, by the Houston Oilers (1980-1987). The Jaguars hold the second longest such streak (along with Minnesota) at 90 games (2000-2005).

* – Over the first eight weeks of the season, Jacksonville had only 18 plays of 20 or more yards, tied with Seattle for the fewest in the league in that span. New England had 36 such plays over the season’s first eight weeks. Since then, the Jaguars have had 30 such plays, tied for seventh in the league. The Patriots offense has had just 24 such plays in that span. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nuggetpalooza: Patriots vs. 49ers statistical preview! 12.15.12 at 10:30 am ET
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The red hot Patriots face the 49ers in another terrific matchup Sunday night in Foxboro. To get you ready to be the smartest fan in the room tomorrow, here are some stats that jumped out at me:

* – San Francisco has taken over both sides of the ground game right away in games this season as they have rushed for 551 yards and a 5.92-yard average in the first quarter, both league highs. On defense, opponents have managed just 255 first quarter rushing yards and a 3.23-yard average, both the lowest/best mark in the league.

Note this: That’s kinda what the Patriots have done, except they’ve dominated both sides of the rushing game in the THIRD quarter instead of the first. In the third period, the Pats have rushed for 604 yards (only Washington, with 676, has more) and averaged 5.1 yards-per-carry (7th). On defense in the third quarter, opponents have just 167 rushing yards and a 2.74-yard average, both are the lowest/best marks in the league.

* – The Patriots have forced 27 fumbles this season, which not only leads the league but is already the third-most in the 19 seasons that they’ve tracked the stat. Only the 2010 Giants (30) and the 1999 Eagles (28) had more forced fumbles. And there are still three games to go.

* – Over the first eight weeks of the season, the Patriots allowed 10 touchdowns on passes or runs of 20 yards or more, the most in the league in that span. In the six weeks since then, they’ve allowed only one such touchdown (a 43-yarder on 11/18 against the Colts), tied for the FEWEST in the league (with the 49ers and Bills) in that span.

* – The Patriots have scored 15 touchdowns on drives started inside their own 20-yard-line this season, by far the most in the league (Seattle ranks second with 10). They’ve averaged 2.98 points on those possessions, also the highest in the league, with the 49ers ranked second at 1.97. The Patriots’ average is the highest since they began tracking the stat in 1995:

3.57 – Patriots, 2007
3.30 – Saints, 2011
2.98 – Patriots, 2012
2.51 – Chiefs, 2004

Note this: The Patriots’ defense has allowed an average of 2.00 points per possession when their opponent has started a drive 80 or more yards from pay dirt, the second highest/worst average in the league. Only the Saints (2.91), have been worse this year. The Pats’ have been better in this area than they were last season, when they allowed an average of 2.78 points per such possession, which is the highest full season average allowed in the NFL since 1995:

2.78 – Patriots, 2011
2.60 – Chiefs, 2008
2.25 – Bears, 2000
2.18 – Rams, 2009 Read the rest of this entry »

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Nuggetpalooza: Statistical preview of Patriots vs. Texans Monday night blockbuster! 12.10.12 at 9:13 am ET
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Terrific matchup tonight in Foxboro against the top-seed-at-the-moment Houston Texans, so lets get right to the numbers:

* – Houston is the first team to play the Patriots in Foxboro already sporting 10 or more wins since Christmas Eve, 2000, when the 10-5 Dolphins eked out a 27-24 victory.

* – That Dolphins victory in 2000 is significant in another way: New England led that game at halftime, 21-17, and lost. They have led at the break 68 times in Foxboro since that day (including playoffs) and won all 68 of those games. Here are the top  such records in that span:

68-0 – Patriots
57-5 – Packers
41-4 – Saints
61-6 – Steelers
62-7 – Ravens

* – The Patriots have not had more turnovers (they’ve either had fewer or tied) than their opponent in 20 consecutive regular season games, the longest such streak in the NFL since at least 1990:

20 – Patriots, 2011-2012
18 – Packers, 2010-2011
15 – Bengals, 2005
15 – Broncos, 2004-2005

Note this: The second longest current such streak in the NFL? Six games by the Carolina Panthers.

* – Monday culminates Houston’s first three-game road trip since they opened the 2008 season with three road games, losing all three enroute to an 0-4 start and 8-8 season. Overall though, the Texans’ have won 10 of their last 11 road games.

Note this: Since the Texans’ were created in 2003, this will be the 10th time that they’ve faced a team after with a .750 or better winning percentage late in the season (on or after week 10). They are 3-6 in those games. Their only road win in such a game came November 11, a 13-6 win over the 7-1 (at the time) Bears in Chicago.

* – Over the past four games, the Patriots have converted 61% of their third-down tries, while no other team has converted even 50% in that stretch. Included in that number is a 22-for-28 (79%) performance on third and five yards or fewer. For the season, New England has converted 68% on third down and five or fewer, which leads the league by a mile:

68% – Patriots
60% – Packers
58% – Broncos
58% – Cowboys
57% – Texans

Note this: Opponents have converted a league low 29% of their third downs against Houston’s defense so far and the Texans have allowed just 39% conversions on third and five or fewer, the third lowest/best percentage in the league:

37% – Cardinals
39% – 49ers
39% – Texans

Note this: Only five defenses have held opponents to less than 30% conversions over a full season since 1995. The last to do it? The 2006 Baltimore Ravens.

New England’s third down defense? Well, they’ve allowed 43% conversions (29th) and 48% when needing five yards or fewer (22nd).

* – Only two NFL teams have not allowed a rushing play of 30 or more yards this season: The New England Patriots and the Houston Texans. The last runs of 30+ yards against New England came last December 18 when the Broncos has two such runs, including one by Tim Tebow. Houston last got gashed for 30+ yards last December 11 against Cincinnati. Each team has three such runs on offense this season. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nuggetpalooza: Cool stats as Patriots FINALLY play Dolphins 12.01.12 at 10:24 am ET
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After their complete dismantling of the Jets on Thanksgiving night, the Patriots roll into Miami to face the Dolphins, who find themselves in the playoff hunt with five games to go. By kickoff Sunday, it will have been 344 days since the Pat and Fins have met, the second longest stretch since 1992. They had a 350-day stretch between their final meeting in 2008 and their first in 2009. Here are some other numbers that I found interesting and hope you will, too:

* – With their two defensive touchdowns last week against the Jets, the Patriots became just the fourth team since 1970 to score multiple defensive touchdowns in consecutive games. The others were the Steelers (1983, Weeks 6-7), Vikings (1992, Weeks 9-10), and the Bears (Weeks 4-5 this season).

* – Since the start of last season, the Dolphins have faced a team with a winning record (ABOVE .500, not including .500) at home four times and won all four. The only teams with longer streaks of such wins are the Packers (6-0 dating back to 2009), Colts (6-0 dating back to 2008), and the Patriots (5-0 dating back to 2008).

Note this: The Patriots have only faced one over-.500 opponent at home after week 10 over the past two seasons: The 6-3 Colts two weeks ago.

NFL Note: Since the start of the 2006 season, the Rams have played 11 over-.500 teams at home after week 10 … and lost all 11 times. This is worth noting as the Rams play the 49ers (8-2-1) in St. Louis this Sunday.

* – The Patriots have led at some point in their last 20 regular-season games, the longest active streak in the league. The Falcons have the second-longest streak at 16 games (including Thursday’s game). Four other teams have led in every game so far this season: The Ravens, Steelers, Colts, and Buccaneers.

Note this: The Bucs led at some point in just two of their last 10 games last season and now have led in all 11 this season.

* – The Patriots have outscored their last four opponents by a combined 109 points. That’s tied for the ninth-biggest four-game scoring margin since the merger in 1970. Here are the top three:

+128 – 49ers, 1987
+125 – Colts, 2004
+122 – Redskins, 1975

As a clip-and-save, here are the top scoring margins over a five game span since 1970:

+142 – 49ers, 1987
+141 – Vikings, 1988
+137 – Patriots, 2007
+137 – Patriots, 2010
+137 – Rams, 1999

* – New England has scored 14 or more points in 12 different quarters this season, easily the most in the league as no other team has more than eight such quarters (Buffalo, Denver, New Orleans). Since the start of last season, the Patriots have 29 such quarters, Since 1997, the record for most quarters scoring 14-plus points over two seasons is 34, set by the 1999-2000 Rams.

Note this: The Dolphins have had just four such quarters this season and also have 29 such quarters … over the last 6 2/3 years combined (since the start of the 2006 season).

NFL Note: The Eagles have yet to have a 14-point quarter this season. Since ’97, only two teams have gone a full season without one: the 2003 Cardinals and the 2010 Panthers.

One other thing: The Bears defense has yet to allow 14 or more points in a quarter this season. The 2007 Buccaneers are the only team since ’97 to go a full season without allowing such a quarter. Read the rest of this entry »

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