I'm a stats nut. I lived for the old Sunday Globe sports section, long before the internet and all the sports websites that do the stats crunching so I don't have to. For the last few weeks, the Sagarin Index has had the Patriots in the #3 spot, despite the inferior record to several other teams. USATODAY.com How could this team be rated higher than the Vikings and Chargers. Even when Denver had a better record and a head to head victory over the Pats, the index said the Pats were superior. Clearly strength of schedule is one factor that aids the Pats index number. Another would be the point differential in their losses...all close games except for New Orleans. Digging deeper, here are some stats that actually give me some hope...hope that this team can make a nice run through the playoffs. Assumption: Pats offensive line is a sieve....Kazcur is killing Brady! Facts: Despite being the 3rd most pass happy offense in the league, the Patriots have allowed the 3rd fewest sacks...16. Of the top 10 teams in pass protection, 8 teams are in playoff contention. Assumption: Patriots secondary is not ready for prime time Facts: Patriots have given up ninth fewest yards through the air. Of the top 10 in this category, only five teams have playoff hopes and the Patriots are the only team that leads its division. Assumption: It's a passing league Facts: The NFL may be a passing league... but stopping the run gets you a postseason birth. Of the top ten tens that limit rushing yardage, 9 are in the playoff hunt. Patriots are 15th. However: Pass rushing counts as well. 8 of the top 10 teams that sack QBs are in the playoff hunt. Patriots are 20th. But: The top 4 sacking teams are all middle of the pack in passing yards allowed Interesting note: the Colts have yet to break the top ten in any Defensive category examined so far. Personal interpretation: Stop the run, pressure the QB, be a 3 down guy...wish the Pats had a player like that....Oakland does. Assumption: This D has problems Facts: Patriots give up 3rd fewest points (tied)...17.4 Conclusions so far. Patriots are solid but unspectacular in the D department. Losing to two high powered offenses has clouded reality....this D deserves more credit. Will above average be good enough? I doubt it....but...Indy's D is mediocre and has had to rely on Manning to bail them out too often...If Pats can solve their 2nd half offensive woes...who knows. San Diego looks like the best team suited to end Indy's season. What stats have you latched onto?