With just one game to go in the 2010 season, the New England Patriots, currently the #1 offense in the entire NFL, have already amassed 480 points. By scoring just 20 more points in week 17 (12 below their season average), they will become only the 12th NFL offense ever to score 500 or more points in a season.
Although the 2010 New England offense is not as prolific as the 2007 offense, you can make the argument that they are more efficient and reliable. The main difference between the 2010 version and the 2007 version is the balance on offense. The running game has been utilized more in the double tight end set. The talented rookie tight ends have contributed greatly as well. But let's breakdown the stats instead of just making broader generalizations.
2007 589 points. 36.8 ppg.
Run ATT 451
Run % 43.5
Run YPC 4.1
Run TDs 17
Total Run Yards 1849
Pass ATT 586
Pass % 56.5
Pass YPA 8.3
Pass TDs 50
Total Pass Yards 4731
QB rating 116.0
2010 480 points through 15 games. 32.0 ppg.
Run ATT 409
Run % 46.1
Run YPC 4.4
Run TDs 18
Total Run Yards 1792
Pass ATT 478
Pass % 53.9
Pass YPA 7.7
Pass TDs 34
Total Pass Yards 3526
QB rating 108.4
Tight End Contribution
9 catches 70 yards 2 TDs
36 catches 389 yards 6 TDs
Totals 45 catches 479 yards 8 TDs
Percentage TE catches 45/403 = 11.2%
Percentage TE yards = 479/4731 = 10.1%
Percentage TE TDs = 10/50 = 20%
2010 through 15 games
5 catches 42 yards 1 TD
36 catches 444 yards 9 TDs
45 catches 563 yards 6 TDs
Totals 86 catches 1049 yards 16 TDs
Percentage TE catches = 86/314 = 27.4%
Percentage TE yards = 1049/3526 = 29.8%
Percentage TE TDs = 16/34 = 47.1%
As you can see the Patriots see a marked increase in the utilization of tight ends and tight end productivity in 2010. This reflects perhaps a shift in offensive philosophy or merely an increase in talent in the position and thus higher utilization of the personnel to maximize the talent there. Take the numbers as you will but the increase in TD percentage from tight ends is particulary eyepopping to me, jumping from 20% to 47% which accounts for nearly half of the team's touchdowns in 2010.
The main common factor with these two offenses is that Brady is the trigger man for both offenses and he is amazingly efficient in both seasons. The 2007 offense is more explosive through the air but averages less yardage on the ground and runs a lower percentage of running plays. The increased utilization of TEs and increased offensive balance is evident from the numbers. We can revisit the final numbers after the Dolphins game but I don't expect them to change much overall.
Conclusion - the Patriots 2010 offense is extremely efficient, more balanced than 2007, and is quite likely to join the all time great offenses with 500+ points scored in a season. It makes you appreciate all the more the quality of football we are seeing in 2010 and just what a special quarterback we have in Tom Brady.
(Other all-time scoring NFL offenses.)