Tag Archives: Patriots stats

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots: Full Team Stats, Odds, More

John Morgan
January 21, 2017 at 5:00 pm ET

Sunday’s American Football Conference Championship Game pits the two teams that have ruled the AFC this millennium. Including next month’s game in Houston, either the Steelers or Patriots will have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl ten times since 2001.

In the 1994 season Bobby Ross and Stan Humphries ended the Buffalo Bills’ reign of four straight AFC championships, with their San Diego Chargers blown out by San Francisco in the 49ers’ last Super Bowl victory. Since then the Pats (7) and Steelers (4) have combined for eleven conference championships, laying waste to the NFL’s vision of parity and every team taking a turn as the best in the league.

The Patriots have had sixteen consecutive winning seasons; Pittsburgh has had only one losing season since 2000, back in 2003. New England has won ten or more games 15 times since 2001, including 14 straight times. The Steelers have eleven double-digit winning years in that time span, including the last three in a row. The Patriots have won four Super Bowls this century to Pittsburgh’s two. Any and every Steeler fan will quickly respond to that fact by pointing out that the Black and Gold still lead the Patriots by the count of six Vince Lombardi Trophies to four overall – even though in most cases they are not old enough to remember four of those victories.

 

The Basics: Who, What, When, Where and Why

Who: 13-5 Pittsburgh Steelers (#3 seed, AFC North champs) at 15-2 New England Patriots (#1 seed, AFC East champs)

What: 2016-17 American Football Conference Championship Game

When: Sunday January 22 at 6:40 pm ET on CBS

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA

Why: Winner represents the AFC in Super Bowl 51 at Houston on February 5

 

Weather, Odds and More

Weather: Cloudy with 30% chance of light rain in the late afternoon. Chance of precipitation increases to 70% later in the evening. Winds from the northeast at about 15 mph. Game time temperature of about 33° F.

Keep in mind that this is New England, so the forecast could very well change between now and kickoff.

Coaches: Mike Tomlin is in his tenth year as head coach of the Steelers, having taken over for Bill Cowher in 2007. He has a 103-57 (.644) regular season record, finishing no worse than 8-8 in 2012 and 2013. Tomlin’s teams have made the playoffs seven out of ten times, compiling an 8-5 (.615) post-season record. Under Tomlin the Steelers lost in the wild card game three times and the division round once. Tomlin is 2-0 in the AFCCG and 1-1 in the Super Bowl.

Bill Belichick has compiled a 261-125 overall record in 22 seasons as an NFL head coach. In 17 years with the Patriots Belichick has amassed a 237-115 (.673) regular season record and 24-10 (.706) post season record. Under his guidance the Patriots have won four Super Bowls, six conference championships and fourteen division titles. This will be a post-merger record sixth consecutive time the Patriots have advanced to the AFCCG, and eleventh time they have done so under the Hoodie’s watch. The Pats are 5-5 in those games but only 1-3 in their last four conference championships.

Odds: This game opened up with the Patriots a six-point favorite, and that line has remained relatively steady thus far. Most outlets publish the over/under at 50½, with a handful of venues still listing the total at the original 51 points. New England has covered better than any other team in league this year, going 14-3 against the spread. The Pats 7-2 home ATS record is also the best in the NFL. After last week’s game at Kansas City Pittsburgh is 10-7 ATS, 6-3 on the road. Both clubs went over six times and under ten times in the 2016 season.

 

 

Head-to-Head Series Record: In franchise history the Patriots are 14-15 versus Pittsburgh, but the Pats have owned the Steelers in the Belichick-Brady era. The Patriots are 9-3 dating back to the AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field fifteen years ago. Brady is 9-2 versus Pittsburgh and 4-0 against the Steelers in games in Foxborough. The Patriots defeated Pittsburgh 41-27 on January 23 2005 en route to their third Super Bowl victory. That came three years after upsetting Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl plans, sandwiched between the Snow Bowl (aka Tuck Rule) game and knocking off the supposed Greatest Show On Turf.

 

There is also this full game for your viewing pleasure. The NFL is very proactive about keeping these gems out of the public’s hands, so be forewarned; I don’t think it will be available for very long.

 

These two clubs met twice prior to Belichick’s arrival in the post-season. On January 3, 1998 the Steelers nipped the Pats 7-6 in the division round; the only touchdown came in the first quarter on a 40-yard scramble by Kordell Stewart. One year earlier Curtis Martin rushed for three touchdowns and 166 yards, as the Patriots cruised to a foggy 28-3 victory. The next week The Pats defeated Jacksonville, more probable than not bringing Mark Brunell to tears. Unfortunately Bill Parcells was too busy making contract plans with Leon Hess to notice that kicking to Desmond Howard was a bad idea.

 

Team Stats and Rankings

Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game (or per play), rather than aggregate totals. Per-game and per-play stats are used rather than gross totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, and because they provide a better context in regards to what to expect in any given game.

Numbers in green indicate a top-ten ranking while underlined green is top-five; red indicates a bottom-ten ranking and underlined red is bottom-five. Please note that the information below includes post-season games, so it will likely differ from official stats found elsewhere which are only for the regular season.

Pittsburgh is a well balanced team with legitimate championship aspirations. On offense the Steelers have explosive quick-strike weapons as well as the capability of methodically controlling the ball to drive the length of the field.

 

New England Patriot Offense versus Pittsburgh Steeler Defense

Scoring per Game: Patriots 27.9 (4th); Steelers 19.7 (8th)

Points per Play: Patriots .423 (4th); Steelers .320 (9th)

Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 3.2 (4th); Steelers 2.2 (8th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 2.4 (4th); Steelers (12th)

Red Zone Touchdown Percentage: Patriots 64.1 (8th); Steelers 47.5 (5th)

Yardage per Game: Patriots 386 (4th); Steelers 334 (9th)

First Downs per Game: Patriots 21.8 (7th); Steelers 19.3 (10th)

Yards per Play: Patriots 5.8 (7th); Steelers 5.4 (13th)

Yards per Drive: Patriots 6.66 (1st); Steelers 32.2 (15th)

Points per Drive: Patriots 2.53 (5th); Steelers 1.87 (11th)

Drive Success Rate: Patriots .742 (5th); Steelers .694 (13th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Patriots 6.4 (2nd); Steelers 5.3 (24th)

Third Down Conversion Percentage: Patriots 45.2 (4th); Steelers 40.5 (23rd)

Punts per Score: Patriots 0.9 (10th); Steelers 1.1 (12th)

Plays per Game: Patriots 66.1 (7th); Steelers 61.6 (4th)

– – – – – Rushing and Passing Game – – – – –

Rushing Yards: Patriots 116 (9th); Steelers 95 (9th)

Yards per Carry: Patriots 3.9 (25th); Steelers 4.2 (18th)

Passing Yards: Patriots 270 (4th); Steelers 239 (11th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 7.8 (3rd); Steelers 6.5 (11th)

Completion Percentage: Patriots 65.7 (8th); Steelers 65.2 (28th)

Passer Rating: Patriots 106.8 (2nd); Steelers 87.1 (14th)

TD Passes-Interception Differential: Patriots +30, 34-4 (3rd); Steelers -7, 22-15 (8th)

Complete Passes per Game: Patriots 22.7 (16th); Steelers 23.9 (26th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Patriots 11.9 (7th); Steelers 12.8 (20th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Patriots 1.5 (5th); Steelers 2.4 (7th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Patriots 9.3 (2nd); Steelers 16.2 (7th)

 

Pittsburgh Steeler Offense versus New England Patriot Defense

Scoring per Game: Steelers 24.8 (11th); Patriots 15.6 (1st)

Points per Play: Steelers .390 (10th); Patriots .250 (1st)

Touchdowns per Game: Steelers 2.8 (12th); Patriots 1.6 (1st)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Steelers 1.7 (17th); Patriots 1.4 (2nd)

Red Zone TD Percentage per Game: Steelers 55.4 (14th); Patriots 51.1 (8th)

Yardage per Game: Steelers 373 (7th); Patriots 325 (8th)

First Downs per Game: Steelers 20.8 (12th); Patriots 18.1 (2nd)

Yards per Play: Steelers 5.9 (6th); Patriots 5.2 (9th)

Yards per Drive: Steelers 33.8 (10th); Patriots 28.8 (8th)

Points per Drive: Steelers 2.26 (8th); Patriots 1.42 (1st)

Drive Success Rate: Steelers .724 (9th); Patriots .662 (5th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Steelers 5.2 (13th); Patriots 4.6 (2nd)

Third Down Conversion Percentage: Steelers 41.6 (11th); Patriots 35.6 (4th)

Punts per Score: Steelers 0.9 (9th); Patriots 1.7 (1st)

Plays per Game: Steelers 63.7 (15th); Patriots 62.6 (10th)

– – – – – Rushing and Passing Game – – – – –

Rushing Yards: Steelers 117 (6th); Patriots 89 (5th)

Yards per Carry: Steelers 4.4 (9th); Patriots 3.9 (8th)

Passing Yards: Steelers 256 (10th); Patriots 235 (11th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Steelers 7.1 (10th); Patriots 6.3 (6th)

Completion Percentage: Steelers 64.2 (14th); Patriots 61.5 (10th)

Passer Rating: Steelers 93.0 (12th); Patriots 82.2 (5th)

TD Passes-Interception Differential: Steelers +17, 35-18 (8th); Patriots -6, 22-16 (7th)

Complete Passes per Game: Steelers 23.0 (14th); Patriots 23.0 (18th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Steelers 12.8 (14th); Patriots 14.4 (6th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Steelers 1.3 (2nd); Patriots 2.2 (16th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Steelers 10.9 (7th); Patriots 14.2 (16th)

 

Turnovers

Turnover Differential: Patriots +12 (3rd); Steelers +7 (7th)

Patriot Takeaways: 1.5 per game (14th); 26 total

Steeler Giveaways: 1.2 per game (13th); 21 total

Steeler Takeaways: 1.6 per game (13th); 28 total

Patriot Giveaways: 0.8 per game (2nd); 14 total

 

 

Penalties

Penalties per Game: Patriots 5.8 (5th); Steelers 6.8 (19th)

Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 51.1 (6th); Steelers 65.6 (27th)

Opponent Penalties per Game: Patriots 6.9 (11th); Steelers 6.7 (15th)

Opponent Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 59.1 (13th); Steelers 58.0 (17th)

 

Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average

Efficiency: Total Weighted DVOA: Patriots 34.0% (1st); Steelers 20.0% (3rd)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 21.1% (2nd); Steelers 11.1% (8th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -1.5% (16th); Steelers -4.7% (11th)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 2.7% (7th); Steelers 0.0% (16th)

 

If you are still reading at this point, congratulations. Apologies for the lack of brevity. Pittsburgh has a very good team and deserves to be in this championship game. That being said the Patriots are just a bit better in all phases. Between the better coaches, better quarterback, and home field advantage the Pats should win. Enjoy the game, it should be a classic.

Prediction: Patriots 30, Steelers 20

Houston Texans at New England Patriots: Team Stats, Odds & More

John Morgan
January 8, 2017 at 10:00 pm ET

An injury-ravaged Oakland Raider team lost 27-14 at Houston Saturday in a game that was far more one-sided than the final score indicated. That Texan victory coupled with the expected Steeler annihilation of Miami at Heinz Field Sunday means that the Texans’ reward is an opportunity to travel to Foxborough. Houston now faces the daunting task of facing the 14-2 Patriots. The Pats forced three turnovers and crushed Houston 27-0 in week three with Jacoby Brisset at quarterback. Over their franchise history the Patriots are 7-1 versus the Texans, with the lone loss coming in a meaningless week 17 game seven years ago. In the only playoff game between these two clubs the Patriots prevailed 41-28 four seasons ago. That game followed the infamous decision to have Houston players arrive in high school style varsity letterman jackets.

For the fourth straight season the Patriots will play in prime time in the divisional playoff round. There is a simple reason for this. With the exception of Pittsburgh, no team that played in the first round is remotely close to the Patriots in terms of excitement and entertainment. The Patriots have had sixteen consecutive winning seasons and fourteen straight years with double digit win totals. It is no wonder that fans of the 31 other teams hate the Patriots, witnessing a stretch of success that is unparalleled in the salary cap/free agency era. That type of productivity and success is the perfect recipe to make the Patriots villains for every other NFL owner and their fans.

 

The Basics: Who What, When and Where

Who: 9-7 Houston Texans (#4 seed, AFC South champs) at 14-2 New England Patriots (#1 seed, AFC East champs).

What: 2016-17 AFC Division Round Playoffs

When: Saturday January 14 at 8:15 pm ET on NBC.

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA; FieldTurf surface.

 

Weather, Odds and More

Weather: Cloudy afternoon skies with a high of about 33° F; winds from the north at 10-15 mph. Chance of snow is predicted to zoom from zero during the day to 60% at night, accumulating one to three inches. Low of 23° with light and variable winds of about 5 mph.

Keep in mind that this is New England, so the forecast could very well change between now and kickoff.

Coaches: Dorchester native Bill O’Brien is in his third year as an NFL head coach. His Texan teams have finished 9-7 in each of those three regular seasons, and he is now 1-1 in the playoffs. BoB was with the Patriots from 2007-11, serving as the offensive coordinator in his final year with the Pats. After that O’Brien spent two years as head coach at Penn State, resurrecting the Nittany Lions from sanctions following the aftermath of the Joe Paterno-Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Bill Belichick is now in his 22nd year as an NFL head coach, with a 237-115 (.673) regular season record. BB also has 14 playoff appearances, including the last seven in a row. Belichick is 23-10 in the playoffs (22-9, .710 with the Patriots) with four Lombardi trophies and six conference championships. The Hoodie also has two Super Bowl rings as defensive coordinator for the Giants.

Odds: In the early advanced look-ahead lines published prior to the wild card games the Patriots were listed as 13½ point favorites over Houston. After Sunday’s games the Patriots have initially been listed as 16-point favorites against the Texans. The MGM Mirage is listing the Pats as 17-point favorites, while some other venues are at 15½. For now the over/under is at a total of 45 points.

Head-to-Head Series Record: The Patriots lead the all-time series 7-1. That record includes the lone playoff game between the two teams, a 41-28 victory following the 2012 season. The Patriots have defeated Houston twice since O’Brien became the Houston head coach. Late in 2015 the Pats won at Houston 27-6. The New England defense sacked Brian Hoyer five times, limiting Houston to just seven first downs and 189 yards of offense. Earlier this season the Patriots easily prevailed 27-0 at Gillette Stadium, with LeGarrette Blount rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Team Stats and Rankings

Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game (or per play), rather than aggregate totals. Per-game and per-play stats are used rather than gross totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, and because they provide a better context in regards to what to expect in any given game. Numbers in green indicate a top-ten ranking while underlined green is top-five; red indicates a bottom-ten ranking and underlined red is bottom-five.

As you can see Houston does possess a formidable defense, but the Texan offense makes this game a mismatch on paper. Fortunately for Houston fans games are won and lost on the field and not on stat sheets. Hat tip to Jim Armstrong of Football Outsiders for many of their advanced statistics, including drive stats and DVOA.

 

New England Patriots Offense versus Houston Texans Defense

Scoring per Game: Patriots 27.1 (3rd); Texans 20.5 (11th)

Yardage per Game: Patriots 386 (4th); Texans 301 (1st)

First Downs per Game: Patriots 21.9 (5th); Texans 17.0 (1st)

Yards per Play: Patriots 5.9 (6th); Texans 4.9 (3rd)

Yards per Drive: Patriots 35.5 (7th); Texans 26.7 (2nd)

Points per Drive: Patriots 2.53 (5th); Texans 1.67 (5th)

Drive Success Rate: Patriots .742 (5th); Texans .645 (2nd)

Points per Play: Patriots .418 (4th); Texans .336 (11th)

Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 3.2 (4th); Texans 2.2 (9th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 2.4 (4th); Texans 1.5 (5th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Patriots 63.3% (8th); Texans 52.3% (8th)

Plays per Game: Patriots 66.0 (7th); Texans 59.4 (1st)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Patriots 6.50 (2nd); Texans 5.13 (11th)

Third Down Conversion Percentage: Patriots 45.8 (4th); Texans 38.5 (11th)

Punts per Score: Patriots 0.9 (9th); Texans 1.5 (4th)

Punts per Game: Patriots 4.50 (14th); Texans 5.25 (5th)

– – – – – Rushing and Passing Game – – – – –

Rushing Yards: Patriots 117.0 (7th); Texans 99.7 (12th)

Yards per Carry: Patriots 3.88 (25th); Texans 4.02 (13th)

Passing Yards: Patriots 269 (4th); Texans 202 (2nd)

Gross Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 8.1 (3rd); Texans 6.6 (2nd)

Net Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 7.83 (3rd); Texans 6.18 (2nd)

Completion Percentage: Patriots 66.9 (6th); Texans 61.1 (9th)

Passer Rating: Patriots 109.5 (2nd); Texans 84.3 (7th)

TD Passes-Picks: Patriots +30 (2nd, 32-2); Texans -9 (13th, 20-11)

Complete Passes per Game: Patriots 23.0 (15th); Texans 19.9 (3rd)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Patriots 11.40 (6th); Texans 12.7 (24th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Patriots 1.50 (5th); Texans 1.94 (24th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Patriots 9.25 (2nd); Texans 12.4 (23rd)

 

Houston Texans Offense versus New England Patriots Defense

Scoring per Game: Texans 17.4 (28th); Patriots 15.6 (1st)

Yardage per Game: Texans 315 (29th); Patriots 326 (8th)

First Downs per Game: Texans 19.1 (23rd); Patriots 18.4 (3rd)

Yards per Play: Texans 4.7 (31st); Patriots 5.2 (10th)

Yards per Drive: Texans 28.8 (26th); Patriots 28.8 (8th)

Points per Drive: Texans 1.50 (29th); Patriots 1.42 (1st)

Drive Success Rate: Texans .664 (25th); Patriots .662 (5th)

Points per Play: Texans .261 (31st); Patriots .251 (1st)

Touchdowns per Game: Texans 1.6 (31st); Patriots 1.7 (2nd)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Texans 1.1 (31st); Patriots 1.4 (3rd)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Texans 40.9 (31st); Patriots 52.3 (8th)

Plays per Game: Texans 66.9 (5th); Patriots 62.4 (9th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Texans 5.44 (7th); Patriots 4.75 (3rd)

Third Down Conversion Percentage: Texans 37.3 (22nd); Patriots 36.9 (7th)

Punts per Score: Texans 1.2 (22nd); Patriots 1.7 (1st)

Punts per Game: Texans 4.50 (14th); Patriots 5.00 (7th)

– – – – – Rushing and Passing Game – – – – –

Rushing Yards: Texans 116.2 (25th); Patriots 88.6 (3rd)

Yards per Carry: Texans 4.08 (19th); Patriots 3.85 (8th)

Passing Yards: Texans 199 (29th); Patriots 238 (12th)

Gross Yards per Pass Attempt: Texans 5.9 (32nd); Patriots 6.8 (8th)

Net Yards per Pass Attempt: Texans 5.45 (32nd); Patriots 6.39 (7th)

Completion Percentage: Texans 59.5 (25th); Patriots 61.7 (11th)

Passer Rating: Texans 73.3 (30th); Patriots 84.4 (8th)

TD Passes-Picks: Texans -1 (30th, 15-16); Patriots -8 (11th, 21-13)

Complete Passes per Game: Texans 16.5 (21st); Patriots 21.6 (17th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Texans 14.8 (27th); Patriots 14.2 (6th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Texans 2.0 (11th); Patriots 2.1 (16th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Texans 15.1 (12th); Patriots 14.2 (16th)

 

Interceptions, Fumbles and Recoveries, Oh My!

Other than points on the scoreboard, is there a more important NFL game stat than turnovers? The Pillsbury Doughboy waited long and patiently for this critical section.

Turnover Differential: Patriots +12 (3rd); Texans -7 (26th)

Patriot Takeaways: 23, 14th

Texan Giveaways: 24, 19th

Texan Takeaways: 17, 26th

Patriot Giveaways: 11, 1st

 

Penalties

Penalties per Game: Patriots 5.8 (5th); Texans 5.4 (1st)

Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 51.2 (4th); Texans 54.2 (13th)

Opponent Penalties per Game: Patriots 7.1 (8th); Texans 7.1 (8th)

Opponent Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 58.1 (15th); Texans 59.3 (13th)

 

Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average

Efficiency: Total Weighted DVOA: Patriots 34.1% (1st); Texans -17.7% (29th)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 21.1% (2nd); Texans -21.4% (30th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -1.5% (16th); Texans -6.9% (7th)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 2.7% (7th); Texans -7.0% (32nd)

 

If you are still reading at this point, congratulations. Apologies for the lack of brevity, but pick and choose what stats are meaningful to you for this game. It will not be a surprise if Houston gives the New England offense fits early on. Keep in mind some of that is due to the Patriots seeing how the Texans react to different formations and play calls before you hit the panic button. The Patriots will methodically do what they need to do to win, while also minimizing opportunities for Houston to come away with an upset victory. Houston has had issues this season with their special teams coverage. That could set the Patriots up with a short field and a quick score. Once the Pats take a lead this Texan team is in trouble. Their offense does not have the talent to keep up with the Patriots.

Initial Prediction: Patriots 31, Texans 10

 

By The Numbers: Patriots 23, Arizona 21

John Morgan
September 12, 2016 at 2:00 am ET

While we are all still basking in the after glow of a hard fought upset road victory against a quality team, here are some numbers from Sunday night’s game at Phoenix.

Passing – Jimmy Garoppolo
24 completions
33 attempts
264 yards
8.0 yards per pass attempt
11.0 yards per completion
1 touchdown, 0 interceptions
2 sacks for 7 yards
106.1 passer rating

Rushing
22 carries for 70 yards, 3.2 yards per carry, 1 TD, long of 13 – LeGarrette Blount
3 carries for 16 yards, 5.3 yards per carry, 0 TD, long of 9 — Julian Edelman
4 carries for 12 yards, 3.0 yards per carry, 0 TD, long of 10 – Jimmy Garoppolo
1 carry for 4 yards, 4.0 yards per carry, 0 TD, long of 4 —– Brandon Bolden
1 carry for 4 yards, 4.0 yards per carry, 0 TD, long of 4 —– James White
31 carries for 106 yards, 3.4 yards per carry, 1 TD, long of 13 – Team Total

Receiving
7 catches on 7 targets, 66 yards, 9.4 ypc, 0 TD, long of 19 – Julian Edelman
3 catches on 4 targets, 60 yards, 20.0 ypc, 1 TD, long of 37 – Chris Hogan
3 catches on 4 targets, 48 yards, 16.0 ypc, 0 TD, long of 32 – Danny Amendola
5 catches on 7 targets, 40 yards, 8.0 ypc, 0 TD, long of 21 – James White
2 catches on 5 targets, 33 yards, 16.4 ypc, 0 TD, long of 28 – Malcolm Mitchell
3 catches on 5 targets, 14 yards, 4.7 ypc, 0 TD, long of 5 – Martellus Bennett
1 catch on 1 target (!), 3.0 yards, 3.0 ypc, 0 TD, long of 3 – Jimmy Garoppolo
24 catches on 33 targers, 264 yards, 11.0 ypc, 1 TD, long of 37 – Team Total

Punting – Ryan Allen
2 punts with a 44.5 yard average; long of 45; net average of 40.5 yards

Kicking – Stephen Gostkowski
3/3 Field Goals, 100%, long of 53; 2/2 Extra Points; 11 points

Kickoffs – Stephen Gostkowski
65+ yards, touchback; drive starts on 25
65+ yards, returned; drive starts on 11
65+ yards, returned; drive starts on 19
65+ yards, touchback; drive starts on 25
60 yards, returned; drive starts on 21
62 yards, returned; drive starts on 8

 

 

Follow on Twitter @AllThingsPats

 

Patriots need to improve third down defense against Broncos

John Morgan
January 24, 2016 at 10:00 am ET

For most of the season the topic of conversation in regards to the New England Patriots has centered on the performance of the offensive line. While that unit has at times deserved scrutiny, the return of Sebastian Vollmer has seemed to have stabilized the group. Overlooked has been what may be the real Achilles heel for this squad as they battle the Denver Broncos on Sunday: the team’s third down defense.

 

Last week the Chiefs converted on an astounding 12 out of 20 third down attempts. Add in a fourth down conversion, and Kansas City was able to stay on the field 65% of the time on third down against the Pats. To put that in perspective the New York Giants, with an atrocious pass defense that led to the exit of Tom Coughlin, had the NFL’s worst third down defense in 2015 – and opponents converted on only 47% of their third down opportunities. Logan Ryan in particular had a rough day, with opposing players catching eight out of ten passes thrown his way, plus committing a penalty that resulted in a first down and led to a touchdown on the next play.

 

To be fair we are comparing the small sample size of one game (against a playoff caliber team) versus a defense’s entire season, but every New England fan watching last week’s game had to be very frustrated watching KC convert over and over, after the Patriot defense won first and second down to set up third and long. Considering the opponent, some of that should not have been totally unexpected also. The Patriots’ defensive game plan was to contain Alex Smith and force him to beat the Pats through while limiting his runs. Smith averaged 5.9 yards per carry and quietly rushed for 498 yards and 30 first downs in 2015. Rather than bringing an aggressive pass rush, Matt Patricia’s group focused on gap integrity and setting the edge to contain Smith.

 

In addition the secondary was in zone coverage more often than usual; that should change Sunday. Peyton Manning simply cannot get the ball downfield with any velocity at this point in his career. Pittsburgh made a critical defense with their game plan last week, positioning their defenders as if Manning could still throw the football like he did five or ten years ago. Although Bill Belichick stated that he would never underestimate Manning, I am sure that he saw the same thing I did. Belichick game plans to take away an opponent’s strength and dares them to beat his team with a weaker asset – in this case, that is Manning having to throw the ball deep or outside the numbers.

 

The good news for the Patriots is that Denver’s offense struggled mightily against a Steeler defense that is not nearly as proficient as New England’s. The Broncos were a woeful 2-12 on third down last week, and also failed to convert on two fourth downs. Some of that can be attributed to Pittsburgh’s defense being much better against the run (3.8 yards per carry, 6th in 2015; 91 yards per game, 6th) than they are in pass defense (7.5 yards per pass attempt, 18th; 64.3% completion rate, 22nd; 272 yards per game, 30th). Gary Kubiak wanted to run the ball (33 rushing attempts in the game) even if that was playing to Pittsburgh’s strength. The Denver head coach counted on his team’s defense being able to contain Pittsburgh without Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams. It was a smart game plan, figuring that the Steelers’ best chance to pull off an upset was if Manning threw a couple of wounded ducks that ended up as pick-sixes. Facing Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman this week, he won’t have that luxury.

 

In regards to the previous meeting between the Patriots and Broncos this season, I believe the most important factor that many (especially in Denver) are overlooking is that Jamie Collins did not play, and Dont’a Hightower left early with an injury. The game took a huge change when Hightower went out; once that happened the Broncos were suddenly able to run the ball. The absence of Jerod Mayo is relatively minor; he was on the field for just 36.1% of the defense’s snaps, and many of those came when Collins and Hightower missed time earlier this season. As for Denver fans that counter that the Broncos were equally distressed by having to start Brock Osweiler at quarterback, that argument does not hold water. The reality is that based on how he was performing, the removal of Manning was an improvement, not a downgrade.

 

Kansas City Chiefs Offensive 3rd Downs vs New England Patriots

Drive #1 – with score Patriots 7, Chiefs 0
17 plays, 64 yards in 8:31
3rd and 7 at KC 33 (8:14 – 1st)
Alex Smith pass to short middle to Jeremy Maclin to KC 44 for 11 yards (Logan Ryan)
First Down

3rd and 3 at NE 49 (6:15 – 1st)
Alex Smith pass to short middle to Travis Kelce to NE 44 for 5 yards (Rob Ninkovich)
First Down

3rd and 13 at NE 47 (4:52 – 1st)
Alex Smith scrambles off left tackle to NE 32 for 15 yards (Jabaal Sheard)
First Down

3rd and 4 at NE 26 (3:27 – 1st)
Charcandrick West off left end to NE 20 for 6 yards (Justin Coleman)
First Down

3rd and 6 at NE 16 (2:03 – 1st)
Alex Smith pass incomplete, thrown away from outside the pocket to short left [Jamie Collins]
Stop forces KC to settle for a field goal

Drive #2 – with score Patriots 7, Chiefs 3
7 plays, 25 yards in 3:22
3rd and 2 at NE 48 (13:39 – 2nd)
Charcandrick West up the middle to NE 45 for 3 yards (Alan Branch)
First Down

3rd and 7 at NE 42 (11:40 – 2nd)
Alex Smith pass incomplete to short middle to Travis Kelce
Penalty on KC, Illegal Use of Hands; declined
Stop forces KC to punt

Drive #3 – with score Patriots 7, Chiefs 3
3 plays, minus-1 yard, 1:38
3rd and 12 at NE 38 (9:51 – 2nd)
Alex Smith pass to short right to Travis Kelce to NE 37 for 1 yard (Patrick Chung; Dont’a Hightower)
Stop forces KC to punt

Drive #4 – with score Patriots 14, Chiefs 3
11 plays, 52 yards in 3:11
3rd and 7 at NE 46 (2:00 – 2nd)
Alex Smith pass to deep right to Jason Avant to NE 20 for 26 yards (Devin McCourty)
First Down

3rd and Goal at NE 9 (0:21 – 2nd)
Penalty on KC – Alex Smith, Delay of Game, 5 yards, enforced at NE 9
No Play

3rd and Goal at NE 14 (0:21 – 2nd)
Alex Smith pass incomplete to short left to Chris Conley
Stop forces KC to settle for field goal

Drive #5 – with score Patriots 14, Chiefs 6
8 plays, 44 yards in 4:29
3rd and 10 at KC 25 (14:13 – 3rd)
Alex Smith pass to short right to Jeremy Maclin, ran out of bounds at KC 37 for 12 yards
First Down
Drive ended when the Patriots recovered a fumble.

Drive #6 – with score Patriots 21, Chiefs 6
12 plays, 80 yards in 6:12
3rd and 7 at KC 23 (7:39 – 3rd)
Alex Smith pass to deep left to Jason Avant to KC 49 for 26 yards (Logan Ryan)
First Down

3rd and 3 at NE 29 (4:51 – 3rd)
Alex Smith scrambles off right end, ran out of bounds at NE 22 for 7 yards
First Down

3rd and 3 at NE 15 (2:50 – 3rd)
Alex Smith pass incomplete to short left to Chris Conley (Justin Coleman)

4th and 3 at NE 15 (2:45 – 3rd)
Alex Smith pass short to left to Jason Avant to NE 11 for 4 yards (Logan Ryan)
Penalty on NE (Akiem Hicks), Illegal Use of Hands, 5 yards, enforced at NE 15
First Down
Result of drive: touchdown

Drive #7 – with score Patriots 24, Chiefs 13
3 plays, minus-8 yards in 2:20
3rd and 10 at KC 20 (13:24 – 4th)
Alex Smith sacked at KC 17 for -3 yards (Chandler Jones)
Stop forces KC to punt

Drive #8 – with score Patriots 27, Chiefs 13
8 plays, 29 yards in 2:52
3rd and 1 at KC 29 (9:16 – 4th)
Alex Smith pass to short right to Albert Wilson to KC 37 for 8 yards (Malcolm Butler)
First Down

3rd and 10 at KC 49 (7:45 – 4th)
Alex Smith pass incomplete to deep left to Chris Conley (Devin McCourty)

4th and 10 at KC 49 (7:28 – 4th)
Alex Smith pass to deep right intended for Albert Wilson: intercepted by Duron Harmon at NE 23.
The Replay Official reviewed the pass completion ruling, and the play was reversed.
Alex Smith pass incomplete to deep right to Albert Wilson (Duron Harmon)
Stop forces ball to be turned over on downs.

Drive #9 – with score Patriots 27, Chiefs 13
16 plays, 80 yards in 5:16
3rd and 8 at KC 22 (5:52 – 4th)
Alex Smith pass to short left to Chris Conley to KC 38 for 16 yards (Justin Coleman)
First Down

3rd and 8 at KC 40 (4:51 – 4th)
Alex Smith pass incomplete to short left to Knile Davis

4th and 8 at KC 40 (4:42 – 4th)
Alex Smith pass to short middle to Jason Avant to NE 47 for 13 yards (Logan Ryan)
First Down

3rd and Goal at NE 3 (1:22 – 4th)
Alex Smith pass incomplete to short right to Jason Avant.
Penalty on NE (Logan Ryan), Defensive Pass Interference, 2 yards, enforced at NE 3
First Down
Drive results in a touchdown.

 

Chiefs at Patriots: In-Depth Team Stats, Odds, Prediction

John Morgan
January 12, 2016 at 8:00 pm ET

Thanks to the epic meltdown by the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Steelers advance in the NFL playoffs – and the New England Patriots will host the Kansas City Chiefs rather than the Bengals in the division round of the 2015-2016 post-season. Below are in-depth team stats, betting odds, and prediction with a pick against the spread.

 

Who: #5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at #2 New England Patriots (12-4).

What: AFC Division Round Game.

When: Saturday, January 16 at 4:00 pm ET on CBS.

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA; FieldTurf surface.

Weather: 100% chance of precipitation. Rain with some snow mixing later in the afternoon. Winds of 15-25 mph; temperature of about 40°. Keep in mind that this is New England, so the forecast could very well change between now and kickoff.

Coaches: Andy Reid 161-110-1 (.594) in regular season with 11 playoff appearances in 17 years. Second post-season in last six years. 10-10 playoff record with no victories since 2008; 0-1 record in the Super Bowl.
Bill Belichick 223-113 (.664) in regular season with 14 playoff appearances in 21 years, including last seven consecutive and 12 of last 13. 22-9 (.710) post-season record with four Super Bowl championships and six conference championships.

Odds: The Patriots opened as 5-point favorites, and by late Sunday afternoon the line had pushed up to 5½ in several venues. The point total began at 44½ but has dropped to 42½ on most sites, with some at 43. The current Money Line has New England at -240 and Kansas City +200. The early money has been relatively evenly split between the two teams.

Head-to-Head Series Record: The Chiefs lead the all-time series 17-13-3, but the Patriots are 5-2 versus KC since Bill Belichick became New England’s head coach. The Chiefs blew out the Patriots early last year by the score of 41-14, causing many mediots to overreact and inaccurately bury New England; the Pats were on to Cincinnati after that loss and eventually won the Super Bowl. The last game in Foxborough between these two clubs was on a Monday night in 2011 when the Patriots overcame a slow start and cruised to a 34-3 victory. The Patriots drove for a Brady-to-Gronk touchdown to open the second half, and after a KC three-and-out, Julian Edelman returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown. Within a span of less than a minute a 10-3 game was suddenly 24-3, and the game was over.

 

Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game (or per play), rather than aggregate totals. Per-game and per-play stats are used rather than gross totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, and because they provide a better context in regards to what to expect in any given game. Numbers in green indicate a top-ten ranking while underlined green is top-five; red indicates a bottom-ten ranking and underlined red is bottom-five.

To be fair, some of the statistics below do not tell the story of how these teams are performing right now. To pick one stat as an example, look at the average number of points per play. While the New England offense ranks third for the entire season, the Pats are just 13th over their last three games. On the other side of the ball KC ranks first for the same stat defensively at .261 – but over their last three that figure drops all the way to a minute .162.

 

New England Patriots Offense versus Kansas City Chiefs Defense

Scoring per Game: Patriots 29.1 (3rd); Chiefs 17.9 (3rd)

Yardage per Game: Patriots 374 (6th); Chiefs 329 (7th)

First Downs per Game: Patriots 21.8 (5th); Chiefs 19.2 (11th)

Yards per Play: Patriots 5.7 (6th); Chiefs 5.0 (4th)

Yards per Drive: Patriots 33.1 (9th); Chiefs 29.7 (8th)

Points per Drive: Patriots 2.47 (3rd); Chiefs 1.55 (7th)

Drive Success Rate: Patriots .724 (7th); Chiefs .680 (11th)

Points per Play: Patriots .443 (3rd); Chiefs .261 (1st)

Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 3.2 (3rd); Chiefs 2.0 (4th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 2.5 (2nd); Chiefs 1.4 (7th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Patriots 65.6% (4th); Chiefs 58.5% (19th)

Plays per Game: Patriots 65.6 (13th); Chiefs 64.6 (19th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Patriots 5.50 (13th); Chiefs 4.50 (5th)

Third Down Percentage: Patriots 40.9% (11th); Chiefs 33.8% (3rd)

Punts per Score: Patriots 0.9 (5th); Chiefs 1.6 (2nd)

Punts per Game: Patriots 4.56 (14th); Chiefs 4.81 (13th)

Rushing Yards: Patriots 87.8 (30th); Chiefs 98.2 (8th)

Yards per Carry: Patriots 3.67 (29th); Chiefs 4.10 (16th)

Passing Yards: Patriots 287 (5th); Chiefs 231 (9th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 7.7 (9th); Chiefs 6.6 (3rd)

Completion Percentage: Patriots 64.2% (12th); Chiefs 57.5% (2nd)

Passer Rating: Patriots 101.9 (4th); Chiefs 76.0 (2nd)

TD Passes/Picks: Patriots +29 (1st), 36/7; Chiefs -3 (4th), 25/22

Complete Passes per Game: Patriots 25.3 (7th); Chiefs 21.4 (9th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Patriots 14.1 (22nd); Chiefs 16.3 (1st)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Patriots 2.38 (17th); Chiefs 2.94 (4th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Patriots 14.1 (14th); Chiefs 18.1 (6th)

 

Kansas City Chiefs Offense versus New England Patriots Defense

Scoring: Chiefs 25.3 (9th); Patriots 19.7 (10th)

Yardage: Chiefs 331 (27th); Patriots 339 (9th)

First Downs: Chiefs 18.9 (25th); Patriots 18.9 (9th)

Yards per Play: Chiefs 5.5 (14th); Patriots 5.2 (7th)

Yards per Drive: Chiefs 30.4 (19th); Patriots 29.0 (7th)

Points per Drive: Chiefs 2.05 (9th); Patriots 1.59 (9th)

Drive Success Rate: Chiefs .687 (18th); Patriots .666 (8th)

Points per Play: Chiefs .428 (4th); Patriots .302 (8th)

Touchdowns per Game: Chiefs 2.8 (8th); Patriots 2.2 (9th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Chiefs 1.9 (9th); Patriots 1.5 (11th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Chiefs 57.9% (13th); Patriots 57.1% (15th)

Plays per Game: Chiefs 59.8 (31st); Patriots 65.1 (21st)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Chiefs 4.75 (22nd); Patriots 5.25 (18th)

Third Down Conversion Percentage: Chiefs 38.1% (18th); Patriots 37.3% (11th)

Punts per Score: Chiefs 1.0 (10th); Patriots 1.5 (5th)

Punts per Game: Chiefs 4.69 (17th); Patriots 5.38 (5th)

Rushing Yards: Chiefs 127.8 (6th); Patriots 98.8 (9th)

Yards per Carry: Chiefs 4.69 (3rd); Patriots 3.98 (11th)

Passing Yards: Chiefs 203 (30th); Patriots 241 (17th)

Net Yards per Pass Attempt: Chiefs 7.4 (12th); Patriots 7.1 (11th)

Completion Percentage: Chiefs 65.5% (9th); Patriots 60.6% (10th)

Passer Rating: Chiefs 95.4 (9th); Patriots 87.0 (13th)

TD Passes/Picks: Chiefs +13 (17th), 22/12; Patriots -12 (16th), 24/12

Complete Passes per Game: Chiefs 19.4 (28th); Patriots 22.6 (20th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Chiefs 10.2 (3rd); Patriots 14.7 (7th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Chiefs 2.88 (26th); Patriots 3.06 (2nd)

Sack Yardage Lost: Chiefs 14.88 (16th); Patriots 22.4 (1st)

 

Turnovers

Patriot Giveaways: 0.88 (14, 1st); Chief Takeaways: 1.81 (29, 5th)

Chief Giveaways: 0.94 (15, 2nd); Patriot Takeaways: 1.31 (21, 22nd)

 

Penalties

Penalties per Game: Patriots 6.0 (4th); Chiefs 6.4 (9th)

Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 53.8 (9th); Chiefs 54.7 (11th)

Opponent Penalties per Game: Patriots 7.0 (15th); Chiefs 6.7 (22nd)

Opponent Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 63.3 (8th); Chiefs 57.1 (18th)

 

Football Outsiders Statistics and Rankings

Team Efficiency: Total DVOA: Patriots 22.6% (6th); Chiefs 25.6% (5th)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 15.4% (5th); Chiefs 11.7% (6th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -3.4% (12th); Chiefs -11.4% (6th)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 3.9% (5th); Chiefs 2.4% (7th)

 

This game will be a very difficult task for the Patriots. The Kansas City Chiefs possess an extremely good defense, on all three levels. However, New England will be bolstered by the return of Julian Edelman and Sebastian Vollmer, as well as by the improvement in health of banged up players like Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung. I’ll take Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at home over Andy Reid and Alex Smith, but expect this to be a close, hard fought game.

Prediction: Patriots 24, Chiefs 20

Take the Pats -240 to win, but KC plus the points – with a slight lean to the over.

 

Patriots at Dolphins: In-Depth Team Stats, Odds, TV Info & Prediction

John Morgan
January 3, 2016 at 11:00 am ET

In the final week of the 2015 NFL regular season, the 12-3 New England Patriots travel to south Florida to take on the 5-10 Miami Dolphins. With a victory the Patriots will secure the number one seed in the AFC and home field throughout the playoffs; the Pats can also land in the top spot if Denver loses to San Diego. Even with a loss and a win by the Broncos, New England will still have a bye next week to give many of their injured players extra time to recoup – but would have to travel to Denver for the AFC Championship game should both teams make it that far. The Dolphins were eliminated three weeks ago in what was the first loss of their current three-game losing streak and have clinched last place in the AFC South. The Fins have scored more than twenty points just three times this season, while giving up 30+ points six times and 23 or more ten times.

NFL Week 17 Playoff Picture with Clinching and Elimination Scenarios

 

Who: 12-3 New England Patriots at 5-10 Miami Dolphins

When: Sunday, January 3 at 1:00 pm ET

Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens FL

Television: CBS; announcers: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

Broadcast on nine New England stations (Boston MA; Springfield MA; Providence RI; Hartford CT; Burlington VT; and Bangor, Portland and Presque Isle ME) and four Florida stations (Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers and Tampa).

Week 17 NFL Maps

Weather: 79° (‘feels like’ 82°); brief afternoon showers expected with a 59% chance of rain; 90% cloud cover, 73% humidity and a breeze of 6 mph.

Odds: The Patriots opened as eight-point favorites Sunday, and after a couple hours the line moved up to nine as early action was heavily tilted in New England’s favor. That trend continued throughout the week; by Tuesday the line was up to ten points and peaked at 10½ Wednesday, before settling back at ten Thursday. Late action has leaned more towards Miami plus the points, resulting in some venues lowering the spread to 9½, but the majority of betting parlors remain at 10 points. The over/under has moved up from an open of 44½ to 46½, with some sites as high as 47. As is always the case the money line varies from one venue to another, but the typical ML is set with the Patriots -500 (risk $500 to win $100) and Miami +400 (risk $100 to win $400).

Head-to-Head Series Record: Miami holds a slight edge in the all-time series at 52-48, which includes two wins and one loss by the Patriots in the playoffs. Miami won 17 out of 22 from 1967 to 1977, but the Patriots came back to upset the Fins in the ‘Squish the Fish’ game in the ’85 playoffs, starting a string of seven consecutive wins for the Patriots in the late eighties. Miami dominated in the early nineties, winning nine straight and 12 out of 13, but the Pats came back to win four in a row, including a 17-3 victory in the 1997 playoffs. Bill Belichick lost his first three meetings with Miami as head coach of the Patriots, but since then it has been all Pats, with New England winning 20 of the last 28 games.

Besides the Squish the Fish game, there have been plenty of other memorable battles between these two teams: the Mark Henderson Snow Plow Game; the Doug Flutie Drop Kick Game; the Wildcat Game; Miami’s Enhanced Audio ‘TapeGate’ Game; and Matt Light’s fight with Channing Crowder.

 

Miami has the appearance of a team that has packed it in, playing uninspired ball since the Patriots crushed them 36-7 in Week 8. The Dolphins have lost three in a row and seven of their last nine, with their only victories coming by a margin of two points against an injury-riddled Baltimore squad and by one over a Philadelphia team that was in the midst of a swoon that resulted in the firing of their head coach. The Patriots have plenty to play for but have 14 players on Injured Reserve, plus six more that have been ruled out for this game. Miami would love to end the season on a positive note by denying their long time rivals the number one seed; with so many key Patriot players missing, that is entirely possible.

Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game (or per play), rather than aggregate totals. Per-game and per-play stats are used rather than gross totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, and because they provide a better context in regards to what to expect in any given game. Numbers in green indicate a top-ten ranking while underlined green is top-five; red indicates a bottom-ten ranking and underlined red is bottom-five.

 

New England Patriots Offense versus Miami Dolphins Defense

Scoring per Game: Patriots 30.3 (3rd); Dolphins 25.3 (23rd)

Yardage per Game: Patriots 386 (4th); Dolphins 388 (27th)

First Downs per Game: Patriots 22.4 (3rd); Dolphins 22.6 (30th)

Yards per Play: Patriots 5.8 (6th); Dolphins 5.7 (25th)

Yards per Drive: Patriots 33.9 (8th); Dolphins 33.7 (28th)

Points per Drive: Patriots 2.57 (2nd); Dolphins 2.11 (23rd)

Drive Success Rate: Patriots .733 (3rd); Dolphins .726 (29th)

Points per Play: Patriots .457 (3rd); Dolphins .371 (19th)

Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 3.4 (3rd); Dolphins 3.0 (25th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 2.6 (1st); Dolphins 1.9 (20th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Patriots 66.1% (3rd); Dolphins 60.4% (21st)

Plays per Game: Patriots 66.4 (9th); Dolphins 68.1 (29th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Patriots 5.6 (12th); Dolphins 6.1 (29th)

Third Down Percentage: Patriots 41.8% (9th); Dolphins 44.4% (28th)

Punts per Score: Patriots 0.8 (3rd); Dolphins 1.1 (16th)

Punts per Game: Patriots 4.40 (10th); Dolphins 4.60 (18th)

Rushing Yards: Patriots 88.9 (29th); Dolphins 129.9 (30th)

Yards per Carry: Patriots 3.75 (28th); Dolphins 4.10 (16th)

Passing Yards: Patriots 297 (2nd); Dolphins 258 (24th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 7.7 (7th); Dolphins 7.9 (28th)

Completion Percentage: Patriots 64.7% (11th); Dolphins 65.2% (23rd)

Passer Rating: Patriots 103.3 (4th); Dolphins 98.8 (25th)

TD Passes/Picks: Patriots +29 (1st), 36/7; Dolphins -18 (22nd), 31/13

Complete Passes per Game: Patriots 26.1 (5th); Dolphins 22.5 (18th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Patriots 14.2 (24th); Dolphins 12.0 (23rd)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Patriots 2.4 (17th); Dolphins 1.9 (27th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Patriots 14.1 (11th); Dolphins 14.1 (22nd)

 

Miami Dolphins Offense versus New England Patriots Defense

Scoring: Dolphins 19.3 (27th); Patriots 19.7 (8th)

Yardage: Dolphins 325 (27th); Patriots 333 (7th)

First Downs: Dolphins 18.1 (30th); Patriots 18.5 (7th)

Yards per Play: Dolphins 5.4 (17th); Patriots 5.2 (6th)

Yards per Drive: Dolphins 27.8 (29th); Patriots 28.4 (6th)

Points per Drive: Dolphins 1.53 (28th); Patriots 1.58 (7th)

Drive Success Rate: Dolphins .659 (30th); Patriots .664 (8th)

Points per Play: Dolphins .321 (22nd); Patriots .304 (6th)

Touchdowns per Game: Dolphins 2.5 (18th); Patriots 2.3 (9th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Dolphins 1.4 (24th); Patriots 1.5 (8th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Dolphins 53.9% (21st); Patriots 57.9% (17th)

Plays per Game: Dolphins 60.3 (28th); Patriots 64.6 (20th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Dolphins 3.7 (31st); Patriots 5.1 (14th)

Third Down Conversion Percentage: Dolphins 29.3% (30th); Patriots 36.5% (9th)

Punts per Score: Dolphins 1.8 (30th); Patriots 1.5 (3rd)

Punts per Game: Dolphins 5.8 (30th); Patriots 5.4 (4th)

Rushing Yards: Dolphins 93.3 (27th); Patriots 98.9 (8th)

Yards per Carry: Dolphins 4.52 (9th); Patriots 4.09 (14th)

Passing Yards: Dolphins 231 (22nd); Patriots 234 (11th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Dolphins 7.1 (19th); Patriots 6.9 (10th)

Completion Percentage: Dolphins 61.8% (20th); Patriots 60.2% (9th)

Passer Rating: Dolphins 87.2 (20th); Patriots 85.3 (10th)

TD Passes/Picks: Dolphins +10 (18th), 22/12; Patriots -10 (12th), 22/12

Complete Passes per Game: Dolphins 22.7 (15th); Patriots 22.4 (17th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Dolphins 14.0 (20th); Patriots 14.8 (6th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Dolphins 2.9 (26th); Patriots 3.2 (2nd)

Sack Yardage Lost: Dolphins 27.5 (32nd); Patriots 23.3 (1st)

 

Turnovers

Patriot Giveaways: 0.9 (1st); Dolphin Takeaways: 1.1 (25th)

Dolphin Giveaways: 1.3 (11th); Patriot Takeaways: 1.4 (16th)

 

Penalties

Penalties per Game: Patriots 5.9 (4th); Dolphins 8.3 (28th)

Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 54.6 (9th); Dolphins 66.5 (25th)

Opponent Penalties per Game: Patriots 6.8 (18th); Dolphins 7.6 (6th)

Opponent Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 61.3 (13th); Dolphins 64.3 (8th)

 

Football Outsiders Statistics and Rankings

Team Efficiency: Weighted DVOA: Patriots 21.6% (7th); Dolphins -24.2% (31st)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 17.2% (5th); Dolphins -10.2% (26th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -5.2% (11th); Dolphins 10.9% (30th)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 4.6% (3rd); Dolphins -2.6% (24th)

 

Expect the New England offense to perform much better than it did last week. Let’s give credit where it is due: the Jet defense is one of the best in the NFL. The Patriots should be able to run the ball more effectively and also have much better success on third down than they did last week, which will lead to more scoring opportunities – and at the same time keep the Patriot defense off the field, allowing them to be less gassed and more effective as they battle the Florida humidity.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Dolphins 20

NFL Week 17 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread

 

Patriots at Jets: In-Depth Team Stats, Odds, TV Info & Prediction

John Morgan
December 27, 2015 at 11:00 am ET

In one of only three NFL Week 16 games between two teams with winning records, the 12-2 New England Patriots take on the 9-5 New York Jets in a game with playoff implications for both teams. The Patriots have already won the AFC East title (for the seventh consecutive season) and earned a first round bye. The Pats can clinch the number one seed and home field throughout the conference playoffs with a win over their arch rivals (or with a loss by Cincinnati). The Jets have the same record as Pittsburgh and Kansas City but need help because they would lose tiebreakers to the Steelers or Chiefs. Gang Green will be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss combined with wins by the Broncos, Steelers and Chiefs. The Jets would also be eliminated from the number five seed with either a loss plus a Pittsburgh win, or a loss plus victories by the Broncos and Chiefs.

NFL Week 16 Playoff Picture with Clinching and Elimination Scenarios

 

Who: 12-2 New England Patriots vs 9-5 New York Jets

When: Sunday, December 27 at 1:00 pm ET

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford NJ

Television: CBS; announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

NFL Week 16 TV Info: Patriots-Jets, Panthers-Falcons Receive Primary Early Game Broadcast Distribution

Week 16 NFL Maps

Weather: 62° (‘feels like’ 60°); cloudy skies and 73% humidity, with 15% chance of rain and a breeze of 9-13 mph.

Odds: The Patriots opened up as 3-point favorites in early ‘look ahead” odds published ten days ago. New England was installed as a 3½-point favorite when all the venues listed their initial lines at the conclusion of last Sunday afternoon’s games. The spread soon moved up to 3½ but within 24 hours slipped back to three, where it steadily remained throughout the week. Suddenly on Sunday morning a large amount of money was placed on New York plus the points, causing betting parlors to drop the line to two points in most places – with some as low as 1½. The point total has dropped slightly from 46½ to 45½, with a few betting parlors listing the over/under at 46. As always the Money Line varies a bit from venue to venue; a typical ML lists New England at -150 and the Jets at +130.

Head-to-Head Series Record: The two clubs have met 113 times since the two franchises began play in 1960. The Patriots lead the series 59-53-1, including two out of three wins in the post-season. New England has won the last three contests and eight of the last nine; since a 10-3 loss when Mo Lewis knocked Drew Bledsoe out of the game on September 23, 2001, the Patriots are 23-7 versus the Jets.

 

This game is a compelling matchup between an excellent offense versus a great defense. The Jets lead the league in Red Zone defense, first downs allowed and opponent completion percentage, and rank among the best in the league in nearly every defensive statistical category. Despite all the injuries to the Patriots, this should be a very entertaining game for football fans everywhere, regardless of any rooting interest.

Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game (or per play), rather than aggregate totals. Per-game and per-play stats are used rather than gross totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, and because they provide a better context in regards to what to expect in any given game. Numbers in green indicate a top-ten ranking while underlined green is top-five; red indicates a bottom-ten ranking and underlined red is bottom-five.

 

New England Patriots Offense versus New York Jets Defense

Scoring per Game: Patriots 31.1 (3rd); Jets 19.4 (8th)

Yardage per Game: Patriots 394 (4th); Jets 323 (5th)

First Downs per Game: Patriots 22.9 (3rd); Jets 16.9 (1st)

Yards per Play: Patriots 5.9 (6th); Jets 5.1 (5th)

Yards per Drive: Patriots 33.9 (8th); Jets 26.5 (3rd)

Points per Drive: Patriots 2.63 (2nd); Jets 1.47 (4th)

Drive Success Rate: Patriots .737 (3rd); Jets .627 (1st)

Points per Play: Patriots .462 (3rd); Jets .307 (8th)

Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 3.5 (3rd); Jets 2.1 (5th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 2.7 (1st); Jets 0.8 (1st)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Patriots 66.7% (2nd); Jets 32.4% (1st)

Plays per Game: Patriots 67.2 (8th); Jets 63.2 (12th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Patriots 5.9 (6th); Jets 4.8 (9th)

Third Down Percentage: Patriots 43.5% (5th); Jets 33.0% (3rd)

Punts per Score: Patriots 0.8 (4th); Jets 1.5 (4th)

Punts per Game: Patriots 4.43 (10th); Jets 5.50 (4th)

Rushing Yards: Patriots 90.8 (28th); Jets 82.8 (2nd)

Yards per Carry: Patriots 3.81 (25th); Jets 3.76 (5th)

Passing Yards: Patriots 303 (2nd); Jets 240 (13th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 7.8 (5th); Jets 6.7 (4th)

Completion Percentage: Patriots 64.4% (11th); Jets 55.9% (1st)

Passer Rating: Patriots 104.0 (4th); Jets 78.3 (4th)

TD Passes/Picks: Patriots +29 (1st), 35/6; Jets -7 (8th), 24/17

Complete Passes per Game: Patriots 26.4 (3rd); Jets 21.6 (11th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Patriots 14.6 (25th); Jets 17.1 (1st)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Patriots 2.4 (16th); Jets 2.5 (11th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Patriots 14.4 (12th); Jets 19.1 (4th)

 

New York Jets Offense versus New England Patriots Defense

Scoring: Jets 24.6 (11th); Patriots 19.2 (6th)

Yardage: Jets 371 (10th); Patriots 326 (6th)

First Downs: Jets 20.7 (12th); Patriots 18.5 (7th)

Yards per Play: Jets 5.5 (14th); Patriots 5.1 (4th)

Yards per Drive: Jets 29.9 (24th); Patriots 27.7 (5th)

Points per Drive: Jets 2.03 (12th); Patriots 1.52 (5th)

Drive Success Rate: Jets .689 (17th); Patriots .657 (6th)

Points per Play: Jets .362 (14th); Patriots .299 (6th)

Touchdowns per Game: Jets 2.8 (13th); Patriots 2.2 (9th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Jets 2.3 (5th); Patriots 1.4 (6th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Jets 66.7% (2nd); Patriots 57.1% (17th)

Plays per Game: Jets 67.9 (5th); Patriots 64.3 (18th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Jets 6.1 (3rd); Patriots 5.1 (14th)

Third Down Conversion Percentage: Jets 41.5% (11th); Patriots 36.4% (10th)

Punts per Score: Jets 1.1 (13th); Patriots 1.5 (3rd)

Punts per Game: Jets 5.1 (20th); Patriots 5.4 (5th)

Rushing Yards: Jets 114.5 (11th); Patriots 95.8 (10th)

Yards per Carry: Jets 3.97 (15th); Patriots 3.99 (12th)

Passing Yards: Jets 257 (10th); Patriots 230 (8th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Jets 7.0 (20th); Patriots 6.9 (9th)

Completion Percentage: Jets 60.8% (23rd); Patriots 60.0% (8th)

Passer Rating: Jets 89.5 (18th); Patriots 83.3 (9th)

TD Passes/Picks: Jets +15 (12th), 28/13; Patriots -7 (9th), 19/12

Complete Passes per Game: Jets 22.9 (14th); Patriots 22.1 (13th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Jets 14.7 (26th); Patriots 14.8 (7th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Jets 1.4 (2nd); Patriots 3.4 (1st)

Sack Yardage Lost: Jets 7.1 (1st); Patriots 24.2 (1st)

 

Turnovers

Patriot Giveaways: 0.9 (2nd); Jet Takeaways: 2.0 (3rd)

Jet Giveaways: 1.4 (14th); Patriot Takeaways: 1.4 (16th)

 

Penalties

Penalties per Game: Patriots 6.3 (6th); Jets 6.0 (5th)

Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 58.0 (16th); Jets 50.5 (4th)

Opponent Penalties per Game: Patriots 6.9 (17th); Jets 6.1 (30th)

Opponent Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 62.9 (12th); Jets 51.1 (27th)

 

Football Outsiders Statistics and Rankings

Team Efficiency: Weighted DVOA: Patriots 23.6% (6th); Jets 8.1% (10th)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 18.0% (4th); Jets 1.1% (14th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -6.2% (10th); Jets -12.0% (6th)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 4.0% (3rd); Jets -3.3% (27th)

 

Considering the weapons (or lack thereof) on offense for the Patriots at this juncture and the defensive prowess of the Jets, it would not surprise me in the least if New York wins this game. However, I have a gut feeling that the New England defense will come up with some critical plays to eek out a close, hard fought victory for the Patriots.

NFL Week 16 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread: Patriots 20, Jets 16

 

Titans at Patriots: In-Depth Team Stats, Odds, TV Info & Prediction

John Morgan
December 20, 2015 at 10:00 am ET

The 11-2 New England Patriots seek to avoid the proverbial ‘trap’ game, as the best team in the AFC hosts a 3-10 club that appears to be headed towards making the first overall pick in the 2016 draft Sunday. Game kicks off at 1:00 pm eastern time Sunday and is available on CBS throughout most of the eastern United States plus the northwest. Thanks to there being an unheard of five late games this week plus a game Saturday, the Patriots-Titans tilt is one of just three early games this week on CBS, who has the doubleheader. For out of town fans hoping for an easy blowout, be careful what you wish for: that could mean your local station switches to Houston at Indy or KC at Baltimore.

 

NFL Week 15 Playoff Picture with Clinching and Elimination Scenarios

The Patriots clinched the AFC East title last week, and can finish no lower than the number three seed in the conference. New England can clinch a first round bye with a win, coupled with a Denver loss to Pittsburgh. The Pats could also clinch a bye with a win, a Bengals loss, and a tie between the Broncos and Steelers.

 

When: Sunday, December 20 at 1:00 pm ET

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA

Television: CBS; announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

Odds: In early advanced ‘look-ahead’ lines posted a week ago Thursday, the Westgate listed the Patriots as ten-point favorites. Immediately following last Sunday’s Week 14 games when the Patriots defeated Houston 27-6 and the Jets beat Tennessee 30-8, the Patriots opened as 12½ point favorites. That line quickly rose to 14 points, where it has for the most part remained since then. Earlier in the week a few venues were giving the Titans 14½ points, and as of Saturday if you shop around you may find a few places that are at 13½. The over/under is 46½ or 47 depending on where you visit, and the typical money line has pushed up to New England -1400 and Tennessee +800. While this game may seem like a sure thing, risking $1400 to win $100 does not appeal to me in any manner whatsoever.

Head-to-Head Series Record: Dating back to the inaugural season of the AFL in 1960 when the two franchises were known as the Boston Patriots and Houston Oilers, the Pats lead the series 23-16-1 (including a 1-1 playoff split). On New Years Eve in 1978 I witnessed the Patriots first ever home playoff game, at Schaefer Stadium. On a cold gloomy day Earl Campbell ran for 118 yards, Dan Pastorini threw three touchdown passes, and Houston opened up a 21-0 halftime lead and held the Pats off in the second half to win 31-14. The team lacked focus after being thoroughly distracted by the suspension and reinstatement of head coach Chuck Fairbanks, who had accepted a much better paying job with the University of Colorado. This game was in the middle of a four-game winning streak for the Oilers against the Pats, though the three others were much more closely contested, decided by a grand total of 14 points.

Since that time the Patriots have won eleven of the fourteen meetings between the two clubs, including the last five in a row. The only loss in the Belichick-Brady era came on a Monday night game late in 2002. The most recent games between these two teams have not been close: the Patriots won 34-13 at Nashville in 2012, 59-0 in Foxborough in 2009, and 40-23 in Nashville in 2006. In the only other post-season game between the two clubs, the Patriots won 17-14 in the 2003 playoffs on a bitterly cold day when Bethel Johnson caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady, Adam Vinatieri kicked the game-winning 46-yard field goal, and an open Drew Bennett dropped a fourth down pass from Steve McNair to end the game.

 

Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game (or per play), rather than aggregate totals. Per-game and per-play stats are used rather than gross totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, and because they provide a better context in regards to what to expect in any given game. Numbers in green indicate a top-ten ranking while underlined green is top-five; red indicates a bottom-ten ranking and underlined red is bottom-five.

With the return of Rob Gronkowski, in one week New England’s ranking in pass completion percentage went up five spots from 16th to 11th. The defense now also ranks higher in several categories, including up seven spots in the NFL’s official defensive ranking (yardage), from 13th to sixth.

 

New England Patriots Offense versus Tennessee Titans Defense

Scoring per Game: Patriots 30.9 (3rd); Titans 25.1 (22nd)

Yardage per Game: Patriots 397 (3rd); Titans 344 (13th)

First Downs per Game: Patriots 23.3 (2nd); Titans 20.1 (17th)

Yards per Play: Patriots 5.9 (6th); Titans 5.6 (23rd)

Yards per Drive: Patriots 34.2 (7th); Titans 30.7 (11th)

Points per Drive: Patriots 2.65 (2nd); Titans 2.20 (27th)

Drive Success Rate: Patriots .742 (2nd); Titans .719 (26th)

Points per Play: Patriots .458 (3rd); Titans .407 (28th)

Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 3.5 (3rd); Titans 3.2 (28th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Patriots 2.8 (1st); Titans 2.2 (25th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Patriots 68.5% (2nd); Titans 65.1% (29th)

Plays per Game: Patriots 67.5 (7th); Titans 61.6 (4th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Patriots 5.8 (7th); Titans 5.5 (22nd)

Third Down Percentage: Patriots 43.4% (5th); Titans 42.5% (26th)

Punts per Score: Patriots 0.8 (3rd); Titans 1.1 (15th)

Punts per Game: Patriots 4.5 (10th); Titans 4.5 (21st)

Rushing Yards: Patriots 90.6 (27th); Titans 111.5 (17th)

Yards per Rush: Patriots 3.82 (24th); Titans 4.00 (21st)

Passing Yards: Patriots 307 (1st); Titans 233 (9th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 7.8 (5th); Titans 8.1 (30th)

Completion Percentage: Patriots 64.3% (11th); Titans 64.3% (19th)

Passer Rating: Patriots 103.8 (4th); Titans 102.3 (31st)

TD Passes/Picks: Patriots +27 (1st), 33/6; Titans -18 (29th), 28/10

Complete Passes per Game: Patriots 26.6 (3rd); Titans 19.9 (1st)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Patriots 14.8 (27th); Titans 11.2 (28th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Patriots 2.5 (20th); Titans 2.7 (6th)

Sack Yardage Lost per Game: Patriots 14.4 (14th); Titans 18.8 (5th)

 

Tennessee Titans Offense versus New England Patriots Defense

Scoring: Titans 19.5 (27th); Patriots 19.5 (9th)

Yardage: Titans 325 (28th); Patriots 329 (6th)

First Downs: Titans 19.7 (20th); Patriots 18.8 (7th)

Yards per Play: Titans 5.3 (23rd); Patriots 5.1 (3rd)

Yards per Drive: Titans 28.3 (29th); Patriots 28.5 (6th)

Points per Drive: Titans 1.58 (27th); Patriots 1.55 (7th)

Drive Success Rate: Titans .677 (24th); Patriots .681 (11th)

Points per Play: Titans .318 (23rd); Patriots .301 (7th)

Touchdowns per Game: Titans 2.4 (18th); Patriots 2.2 (10th)

Red Zone Touchdowns per Game: Titans 1.6 (16th); Patriots 1.5 (8th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Titans 61.8% (9th); Patriots 55.9% (17th)

Plays per Game: Titans 61.2 (27th); Patriots 64.6 (20th)

Third Down Conversions per Game: Titans 4.1 (29th); Patriots 5.2 (15th)

Third Down Percentage: Titans 33.3% (28th); Patriots 37.2% (11th)

Punts per Score: Titans 1.6 (28th); Patriots 1.5 (4th)

Punts per Game: Titans 5.2 (23rd); Patriots 4.5 (9th)

Rushing Yards: Titans 96.8 (22nd); Patriots 98.6 (10th)

Yards per Rush: Titans 4.04 (15th); Patriots 4.07 (14th)

Passing Yards: Titans 228 (25th); Patriots 231 (7th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Titans 7.4 (11th); Patriots 6.8 (7th)

Completion Percentage: Titans 63.1% (19th); Patriots 59.4% (8th)

Passer Rating: Titans 89.1 (18th); Patriots 83.1 (9th)

TD Passes/Picks: Titans +8 (19th), 21/13; Patriots -7 (9th), 17/10

Complete Passes per Game: Titans 21.3 (22nd); Patriots 22.1 (14th)

Incomplete Passes per Game: Titans 12.5 (9th); Patriots 15.1 (5th)

Quarterback Sacks per Game: Titans 3.4 (31st); Patriots 3.2 (2nd)

Sack Yardage Lost: Titans 22.2 (31st); Patriots 22.2 (2nd)

 

Turnovers

Patriot Giveaways: 0.9 (3rd); Titan Takeaways: 1.2 (21st)

Titan Giveaways: 1.9 (29th); Patriot Takeaways: 1.3 (18th)

 

Penalties

Penalties per Game: Patriots 6.4 (6th); Titans 6.2 (5th)

Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 59.8 (19th); Titans 49.8 (3rd)

Opponent Penalties per Game: Patriots 7.2 (12th); Titans 7.5 (6th)

Opponent Penalty Yards per Game: Patriots 65.5 (9th); Titans 65.2 (11th)

 

Football Outsiders Statistics and Rankings

Team Efficiency: Weighted DVOA: Patriots 25.5% (5th); Titans -25.1% (30th)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 19.4% (2nd); Titans -12.8% (27th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -5.9% (9th); Titans 5.4% (21st)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 3.5% (4th); Titans -4.0% (30th)

 

An interesting aspect to this game is how well New England can run the ball, behind an inconsistent offensive line and their top two running backs now on injured reserve. If the Patriots are too one-dimensional on offense then Tennessee might keep it interesting for a while thanks to their pass rush, but in the end the Titans are just far too overmatched in all three phases of the game to keep pace. The Patriots already had their annual WTF game two weeks ago against Philadelphia; they are not about to look past this one or lose a second straight home game.

Take the Patriots minus the points despite the big line.

 

Prediction: Patriots 34, Titans 13

 

Patriots at Texans: In-Depth Team Stats, Odds, TV Info & Prediction

John Morgan
December 11, 2015 at 7:00 pm ET

The 10-2 New England Patriots seek to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2002 when they travel to Houston to face the 6-6 Texans on Sunday. The Patriots need a win to keep even with Denver and Cincinnati in the race for a first round bye in the AFC, while Houston looks to overtake Indianapolis for the lead in the AFC South.

NFL Playoff Picture after Week 13

 

When: Sunday, December 13 at 8:30 pm ET

Where: NRG Stadium, Houston Texas

Television: NBC; announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

Odds: The Patriots opened as point favorites in early look-ahead lines a week ago Thursday, prior to last week’s games. At the finish of Sunday’s games, after both the Patriots and Texans lost, the updated line remained at 3½. The odds dipped to an even three Monday night, but returned to 3½ Thursday afternoon with the news that Rob Gronkowski was a limited practice participant while J.J. Watt (broken hand) did not participate in practice. As of Thursday night the over/under was 45, and the money line had the Patriots -180 and Houston +160.

Head-to-Head Series Record: The Patriots lead the all-time series 5-1, including a 41-28 division round playoff victory in the 2012 post-season. In that contest Danny Woodhead was injured on the first play of the game, but Shane Vereen stepped in and totaled 124 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns. The last meeting was in Week 13 of the 2013 season when the Pats overcame a ten-point halftime deficit to win 34-31. Tom Brady passed for 371 yards and Stephen Gostkowkski kicked two 53-yards fourth quarter field goals to first tie the game, and then win it with just over three minutes remaining. The Texans lone victory came in Week 17 of New England’s 2010 season of discontent; in a meaningless game for the Patriots Wes Welker blew out his knee and Houston scored the final 21 points in the fourth quarter to win 34-27.

 

The Patriots can clinch a playoff spot with a win Sunday; combine that result with a Tennessee victory over the Jets, and New England wins the AFC East and clinches no worse than the number three seed in the playoffs.

 

Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game (or per play), rather than aggregate totals. Per-game and per-play stats are used rather than gross totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, and because they provide a better context in regards to what to expect in any given game. Numbers in green indicate a top-ten ranking while underlined green is top-five; red indicates a bottom-ten ranking and underlined red is bottom-ten.

One statistic of note: in just one week New England dropped form 8th to 16th in passing completion percentage. Yes, the Patriot receivers are indeed not getting open, and dropping far too many passes when they do.

 

New England Patriots Offense versus Houston Texans Defense

Scoring: Patriots 31.3 (2nd); Texans 22.0 (14th)

Yardage: Patriots 404 (3rd); Texans 332 (7th)

First Downs: Patriots 23.8 (2nd); Texans 18.8 (8th)

Yards per Play: Patriots 6.0 (4th); Texans 5.3 (9th)

Yards per Drive: Patriots 35.1 (5th); Texans 27.6 (5th)

Points per Drive: Patriots 2.68 (1st); Texans 1.72 (9th)

Drive Success Rate: Patriots .747 (2nd); Texans .662 (7th)

Points per Play: Patriots .461 (2nd); Texans .352 (14th)

Touchdowns: Patriots 3.6 (2nd); Texans 2.7 (16th)

Red Zone Touchdowns: Patriots 2.8 (1st); Texans 1.4 (9th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Patriots 66.7% (3rd); Texans 58.6% (21st)

Plays per Game: Patriots 67.8 (5th); Texans 62.6 (8th)

Third Down Conversions: Patriots 5.8 (9th); Texans 3.8 (1st)

Third Down Percentage: Patriots 43.4% (5th); Texans 28.7% (1st)

Punts per Score: Patriots 0.8 (2nd); Texans 1.6 (1st)

Rushing Yards: Patriots 88.5 (28th); Texans 114.1 (21st)

Yards per Rush: Patriots 3.83 (24th); Texans 4.37 (25th)

Passing Yards: Patriots 316 (1st); Texans 218 (3rd)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 7.8 (5th); Texans 6.9 (10th)

Completion Percentage: Patriots 63.8% (16th); Texans 59.3% (6th)

Passer Rating: Patriots 103.0 (4th); Texans 86.4 (12th)

TD Passes/Picks: Patriots +25 (1st), 31/6; Texans -10 (15th), 20/10

Complete Passes: Patriots 27.0 (3rd); Texans 20.2 (3rd)

Incomplete Passes: Patriots 15.3 (29th); Texans 13.8 (12th)

Quarterback Sacks: Patriots 2.4 (20th); Texans 2.5 (12th)

Sack Yardage Lost: Patriots 13.2 (14th); Texans 16.6 (13th)

 

Houston Texans Offense versus New England Patriots Defense

Scoring: Texans 21.1 (22nd); Patriots 20.6 (10th)

Yardage: Texans 362 (13th); Patriots 341 (13th)

First Downs: Texans 22.0 (7th); Patriots 19.8 (14th)

Yards per Play: Texans 5.0 (30th); Patriots 5.2 (7th)

Yards per Drive: Texans 29.5 (24th); Patriots 29.7 (8th)

Points per Drive: Texans 1.69 (24th); Patriots 1.64 (7th)

Drive Success Rate: Texans .693 (16th); Patriots .681 (11th)

Points per Play: Texans .293 (29th); Patriots .313 (8th)

Touchdowns: Texans 2.6 (16th); Patriots 2.4 (11th)

Red Zone Touchdowns: Texans 1.7 (18th); Patriots 1.6 (12th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Texans 60.6% (12th); Patriots 57.6% (18th)

Plays per Game: Texans 72.0 (1st); Patriots 65.7 (23rd)

Third Down Conversions: Texans 6.1 (2nd); Patriots 5.4 (18th)

Third Down Percentage: Texans 39.0% (15th); Patriots 38.5% (15th)

Punts per Score: Texans 1.7 (29th); Patriots 1.4 (6th)

Rushing Yards: Texans 100.1 (19th); Patriots 99.6 (11th)

Yards per Rush: Texans 3.53 (29th); Patriots 4.08 (17th)

Passing Yards: Texans 261 (11th); Patriots 242 (15th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Texans 6.6 (30th); Patriots 6.8 (7th)

Completion Percentage: Texans 57.6% (31st); Patriots 59.9% (9th)

Passer Rating: Texans 85.8 (23rd); Patriots 83.7 (9th)

TD Passes/Picks: Texans +15 (6th) 25/10; Patriots -7 (11th), 17/10

Complete Passes: Texans 24.0 (11th); Patriots 22.9 (19th)

Incomplete Passes: Texans 17.7 (32nd); Patriots 15.3 (5th)

Quarterback Sacks: Texans 2.0 (13th); Patriots 3.0 (2nd)

Sack Yardage Lost: Texans 12.8 (12th); Patriots 19.3 (3rd)

 

Turnovers

Patriot Giveaways: 0.9 (3rd); Texan Takeaways: 1.2 (22nd)

Texan Giveaways: 1.2 (7th); Patriot Takeaways: 1.3 (20th)

 

Penalties

Penalties: Patriots 6.4 (5th); Texans 7.0 (19th)

Penalty Yards: Patriots 60.9 (19th); Texans 61.9 (20th)

Opponent Penalties: Patriots 7.4 (9th); Texans 7.6 (7th)

Opponent Penalty Yards: Patriots 68.0 (9th); Texans 62.9 (12th)

 

Football Outsiders Statistics and Rankings

Team Efficiency: Weighted DVOA: Patriots 22.3% (6th); Texans -1.5% (16th)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 19.8% (2nd); Texans -3.0% (18th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -2.8% (12th); Texans -3.1% (10th)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 3.4% (6th); Texans -5.3% (32nd)

 

Bill Belichick game plans to take away an opponent’s biggest strength, and force (or dare) that opponent to beat you with another option. For Houston’s offense that means limiting WR DeAndre Hopkins, who ranks third in the NFL with 1,169 yards receiving (97.4 yards per game), fourth with 86 receptions (7.2 per game), and is tied for third with ten touchdown receptions.  Belichick has chosen to primarily place CB Malcolm Butler on opponent’s top receivers, and this will be third time this season that February’s Super Bowl hero faces an elite receiver.

In his first NFL start in Week 1, Butler faced Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. The Steeler wide receiver caught nine out of eleven passes thrown his way for 133 yards and a touchdown, but two receptions and the touchdown came in the final seconds when the game was no longer in doubt. Early in Week 9 Giant WR Odell Beckham scored on an 87 yard touchdown when Butler and Devin McCourty got in each other’s way, but from that point on Beckham managed to catch just three passes for an inconsequential 27 yards.

If the Patriots can effectively limit Hopkins, then it’s ‘Houston we have a problem‘. The Texans’ next option in the passing game is an over-the-hill Nate Washington, who has caught just 53% of the passes thrown to him this year. Houston’s offensive line is incapable of opening up running lanes, so their rushing game is non-existent – despite the fact that Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes form a very decent trio in the backfield.

The other side of the ball poses a much more serious threat to the Patriots however, even with a one-handed J.J. Watt. Watt, NT Vince Wilfork, DE Jared Crick, OLBs Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, and ILBs Brian Cushing and Benardrick McKinney comprise one of, if not the best defensive front sevens in the NFL. As you can see from the stats above they not only can generate a powerful pass rush, they also dominate opposing running games. For a New England offensive line that has struggled in both pass protection as well as in the running game, this will be a very formidable challenge. The quick timing passing game will need to be improved for a victory. While Houston’s secondary is also very skilled, the strength of corners Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson is in their strong physical; a heavy dosage of quick shifty players such as Danny Amendola, Keshawn Martin and James White will likely be the game plan to counteract the Houston defense.

 

Prediction: Patriots 24, Texans 23

Just when things look gloomy for the Patriots, the team finds a way to pull out a much-needed win.

 

Eagles at Patriots – Complete Team Stats, Odds & Prediction

John Morgan
December 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm ET

The 10-1 New England Patriots are back home this week to face the 4-7 Philadelphia Eagles in a rematch of Super Bowl 39. The Patriots need a win to maintain their grasp on the number one seed in the AFC, while the Eagles are seeking to end a three-game skid and stay close in the woeful NFC East.

 

When: Sunday, December 6 at 4:25 pm ET

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough MA

Television: FOX; announcers: Thom Brenneman, Charles Davis and Tony Siragusa

Weather: Forecast is for clear skies and temperature in the mid-forties; zero percent chance of precipitation and a slight breeze of about 6 mph.

Odds: The Patriots opened as point favorites in early look-ahead lines a week ago Thursday, prior to last week’s games. After Philadelphia surrendered 45 points for the second consecutive week, the initial line was set at 13 points after Sunday’s Week 12 games. It quickly dropped down to 9½ points based on injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Dont’a Hightower, inched up to ten points on Tuesday and has slowly descended since then: to nine points and then on Saturday, and then another half point to eight points on Sunday. The point total has remained steady at 49, with a few venues at 48½. Typical money lines have the Patriots -400 and the Eagles +320 as of Sunday morning.

Head-to-Head Series Record: The series is tied 6-6, but the Patriots have won all four meetings since Bill Belichick became the team’s head coach. The Pats beat the Eagles 24-21 to win the Super Bowl following the 2004 season, and came from behind in the fourth quarter in 2007 in Foxborough to win 31-28. Their last meeting was in 2011 in Philly when Vince Young threw for 400 yards but Tom Brady threw three touchdowns, BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for two more, and the Patriots won 38-20.

 

The Patriots can clinch a playoff spot today with either a win plus a loss by either the Chiefs or the Steelers; they can also clinch a playoff spot and the AFC East title if the Jets lose to the Giants. Since the beginning of the 2003 season New England has lost consecutive games just four times (the last being in 2012), winning more than ninety percent of those games (38-4). Since 2001 the Patriots have the best record in the NFL in the month of December, posting a .867 winning percentage and 52-8 record.

 

Here is a look at how the two teams compare statistically; the numbers reflect an average per game (or per play), rather than aggregate totals. Per-game and per-play stats are used rather than gross totals because that makes the rankings more meaningful, considering some NFL teams have played a different number of games, and because they provide a better context in regards to what to expect in any given game. Numbers in green indicate a top-ten ranking.

 

New England Patriots Offense versus Philadelphia Eagles Defense

Scoring: Patriots 31.5 (2nd); Eagles 24.9 (23rd)

Yardage: Patriots 402 (2nd); Eagles 380 (25th)

First Downs: Patriots 23.5 (1st); Eagles 21.5 (25th)

Yards per Play: Patriots 6.1 (3rd); Eagles 5.5 (16th)

Yards per Drive: Patriots 35.6 (5th); Eagles 31.4 (14th)

Points per Drive: Patriots 2.78 (1st); Eagles 1.98 (20th)

Drive Success Rate: Patriots .751 (2nd); Eagles .699 (16th)

Points per Play: Patriots .477 (2nd); Eagles .359 (16th)

Touchdowns: Patriots 3.5 (2nd); Eagles 2.8 (22nd)

Red Zone Touchdowns: Patriots 2.7 (1st); Eagles 2.5 (30th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Patriots 65.2% (4th); Eagles 67.5% (31st)

Plays per Game: Patriots 66.2 (10th); Eagles 69.5 (32nd)

Third Down Conversions: Patriots 5.6 (9th); Eagles 6.0 (28th)

Third Down Percentage: Patriots 43.7% (6th); Eagles 42.6% (27th)

Punts per Score: Patriots 0.7 (2nd); Eagles 1.2 (13th)

Rushing Yards: Patriots 87.2 (29th); Eagles 126.6 (27th)

Yards per Rush: Patriots 3.81 (24th); Eagles 4.35 (25th)

Passing Yards: Patriots 315 (1st); Eagles 253 (20th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Patriots 8.0 (5th); Eagles 7.1 (13th)

Completion Percentage: Patriots 65.2% (8th); Eagles 64.6 (21st)

Passer Rating: Patriots 106.7 (1st); Eagles 93.4 (20th)

TD Passes/Picks: Patriots +24 (1st), 28/4; Eagles -13 (21st), 25/12

Complete Passes: Patriots 26.7 (3rd); Eagles 24.5 (26th)

Incomplete Passes: Patriots 14.3 (22nd); Eagles 13.5 (14th)

Quarterback Sacks: Patriots 2.3 (16th); Eagles 2.4 (14th)

Sack Yardage Lost: Patriots 12.2 (12th); Eagles 16.2 (12th)

 

Philadelphia Eagles Offense versus New England Patriots Defense

Scoring: Eagles 22.1 (20th); Patriots 19.3 (5th)

Yardage: Eagles 362 (12th); Patriots 350 (16th)

First Downs: Eagles 21.7 (7th); Patriots 20.2 (17th)

Yards per Play: Eagles 5.2 (28th); Patriots 5.3 (10th)

Yards per Drive: Eagles 29.3 (26th); Patriots 30.3 (10th)

Points per Drive: Eagles 1.62 (27th); Patriots 1.66 (8th)

Drive Success Rate: Eagles .679 (24th); Patriots .683 (9th)

Points per Play: Eagles .317 (26th); Patriots .290 (4th)

Touchdowns: Eagles 2.5 (16th); Patriots 2.2 (7th)

Red Zone Touchdowns: Eagles 1.4 (23rd); Patriots 1.5 (9th)

Red Zone TD Percentage: Eagles 50% (22nd); Patriots 54.8% (16th)

Plays per Game: Eagles 69.7 (2nd); Patriots 66.4 (24th)

Third Down Conversions: Eagles 4.8 (18th); Patriots 5.4 (18th)

Third Down Percentage: Eagles 34.2% (27th); Patriots 38.1% (14th)

Punts per Score: Eagles 1.4 (26th); Patriots 1.4 (5th)

Rushing Yards: Eagles 114.5 (12th); Patriots 97.0 (11th)

Yards per Rush: Eagles 4.01 (17th); Patriots 4.10 (17th)

Passing Yards: Eagles 247 (16th); Patriots 253 (19th)

Yards per Pass Attempt: Eagles 6.8 (26th); Patriots 6.9 (10th)

Completion Percentage: Eagles 64.1% (14th); Patriots 60.0% (8th)

Passer Rating: Eagles 82.0 (28th); Patriots 82.8 (8th)

TD Passes/Picks: Eagles +1 (28th), 15/14; Patriots -5 (8th), 15/10

Complete Passes: Eagles 24.8 (8th); Patriots 23.7 (23rd)

Incomplete Passes: Eagles 13.9 (21st); Patriots 15.8 (4th)

Quarterback Sacks: Eagles 2.5 (22nd); Patriots 3.2 (2nd)

Sack Yardage Lost: Eagles 17.8 (24th); Patriots 21.0 (1st)

 

Turnovers

Patriot Giveaways: 0.8 (2nd);  Eagle Takeaways: 1.9 (4th)

Eagle Giveaways: 1.9 (29th); Patriot Takeaways: 1.4 (19th)

 

Penalties

Penalties: Patriots 6.7 (12th); Eagles 6.8 (16th)

Penalty Yards: Patriots 63.7 (21st); Eagles 52.1 (4th)

Opponent Penalties: Patriots 7.4 (10th); Eagles 8.5 (3rd)

Opponent Penalty Yards: Patriots 65.4 (12th); Eagles 75.3 (4th)

 

Football Outsiders Statistics and Rankings

Team Efficiency: Weighted DVOA: Patriots 28.9% (5th); Eagles -12.2% (24th)

Team Efficiency: Offense DVOA: Patriots 20.3% (2nd); Eagles -13.4% (28th)

Team Efficiency: Defense DVOA: Patriots -2.4% (12th); Eagles -3.7% (11th)

Special Teams DVOA: Patriots 7.9% (1st); Eagles -1.4% (20th)

 

Prediction: Patriots 31, Eagles 17

The Patriots are next to unbeatable at home, and virtually unbeatable in a game following a loss. Even without Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, Tom Brady should be able to exploit a very vulnerable Philly secondary. The Eagles will be forced to start rookie Eric Rowe at corner after Nolan Carroll was lost due to a broken ankle; whomever he is covering should be in line for plenty of targets today.