With all the uncertainty surrounding the Patriots, I thought it would be interesting to look back at performance trends over the past few years. This is going to be pretty long, but I hope it will be informative. The Patriots will have a top 10 scoring offense in 2010. No matter how you feel about the youth movement on defense, this statement is about as close to fact as a prediction can be. The last time they ended the season out of the top 10 was their 12 place finish in 2003. They didn't drop out in 2006 when Reche was the leading receiver, nor in 2009 when the guys were all banged up and ineffective. Hell, they still finished 8th in points scored in 2008 without TFB! So, taking it is a given that the Patriots will finish with a top 10 offense, I set out to see how top 10 offensive teams have done since 2005. Why 2005? Partly due to laziness, and partly because I wanted to see trends during the years since NE last won a SB. For those years, I've tabulated how many made the playoffs, average wins and what the lowest win total was. 2009 NO, Minny, GB, SD, Philly, NE, Indy, NY, Balt, Hou Playoff Teams - 8 Average wins - 11 Lowest win total - 8 2008 NO, SD, NYG, Ariz, GB, Philly, Carolina, NE, NYJ, Atanta Playoff Teams - 6 Average wins - 9.5 Lowest win total - 6 2007 NE, Dallas, Indy, GB, SD, Jax, Ariz, Cleve, Pitt, Seattle Playoff Teams - 8 Average wins - 11.5 Lowest win total - 8 2006 SD, Chicago, Indy, Dallas, NO, Philly, NE, Cincy, Jax, StL Playoff Teams - 7 Average wins - 10.4 Lowest win total - 8 2005 Sea, Indy, NYG, Cincy, SD, KC, Denver, Caro, Pitt, NE Playoff Teams - 8 Average wins - 11.3 Lowest win total - 8 Not too shabby. An average season with 10.74 wins with 37 of a possible 50 teams making the playoffs. Remarkably, only one team finished under .500 the entire time. Now, defense wins championships, right? So let's take a look at teams with top 10 Ds. 2009 NYJ, Dall, Balt, SF, NE, Cincy, GB, Indy, Car, Minny Playoff Teams - 8 Average wins - 10.2 Lowest win total - 8 2008 Pitt, TN, Balt, Phill, NYG, Wash, Indy, NE, Miami, TB Playoff Teams - 7 Average wins - 10.8 Lowest win total - 8 2007 Indy, Pitt, TB, NE, SD, GB, Seattle, TN, Philly, Jax Playoff Teams - 9 Average wins - 11.1 Lowest win total - 8 2006 Balt, NE, Chic, Jax, Miami, NYJ, SD, Denver, Caro, Buff Playoff Teams - 6 Average wins - 10 Lowest win total - 6 (with another at 7) 2005 Chic, Indy, Denver, Pitt, Car, Jax, Seat, TB, Wash, Balt Playoff Teams - 9 Average wins - 11.2 Lowest win total - 6 Not really a big difference. The defensive teams put 39 teams into the playoffs over 37 for the offensive. That's the only category they win, though. Offensive teams have a higher average win total (10.74 to 10.66) and less teams under .500 (1 to 3). Interestingly, in every year but 2008 the offensive teams have a higher average win total. But Oswlek, there is a lot of overlap in those charts and NE's defense is going to BLOW this year! Fair enough. Then let's isolate the teams that had a top 10 O, but were not in the top 10 D. Those teams include: 2009 - NO, SD, Philly, NYG, Hou 2008 - NO, SD, Ari, GB, Carolina, NYJ, Atlanta 2007 - Dallas, Ariz, Cleve 2006 - Indy, Dallas, NO, Philly, Cincy, StL 2005 - NYG, Cincy, SD, KC, NE 26 total teams with 15 making the playoffs. The average win total was 9.8. For ****s and giggles, I did the same exercise with all defense/no offense teams. 27 teams, 17 playoff participants and an average win total of 9.7. So a big discrepancy must rear its head in the playoffs. That's where defensive teams make hay, right? To test this, I gave each team a point for every round they advanced in the playoffs. One and done? Zero points. Get a bye? An automatic one point before playing a game. Winning the SB gets you 4 points whether you were a wildcard or a team resting the first week. The teams with a top O but an out of the money D earned a total of 18 points. All D all day teams? 13. So the defensive teams earned 5 less advancements despite having an extra team in the big dance? Yup. The long and short of it is this. Unless you are willing to step out on the branch and say that this will be the first Patriot team since 2003 to not be in the top 10 in total points, the odds are seriously in their favor of winning 10 games and making the playoffs. Even if the defense sucks. I welcome your thoughts.