I believe we've seen this before? (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
The Patriots have scored the 6th most points in a season, in the past decade, with one game to go. They have scored 480 points on the season. The 1st place team is the 2007 Patriots, with 589 points. 2nd place are the 2004 Colts with 522, 3rd place are the 2009 Saints with 510 points, 4th place are the 2006 Chargers with 492, and in 5th place are the 2004 Chiefs with 483. The Patriots will most likely claim 4th place by the end of the season, but I wouldn't be surprised if they ended with the #3 offensive season. They currently rank 19th in NFL history.
The Patriots have are now 7th in the past decade in point differential- yeah, even with a porous defense early in the season, with +174 differential. Again, the 1st place team is the 2007 Patriots with a +315 differential. The 2nd team is the 2005 Colts with +192. That's a huge difference. I wouldn't be surprised if the Patriots ended the season with the #2 differential, as I believe the defense will be gunning in order to get everything in order before the playoffs. They currently rank 25th in NFL history.
Tom Brady is holding the NFL record for consecutive games with 2+ TDs and 0 INTs (8) and consecutive pass attempts without an interception (319).
Tom Brady ranks #3 in NFL history in TD to INT differential. He's +30 in touchdowns. #1 is 2007 Brady with +42, #2 is 2004 Peyton Manning with +39. Barring a 4 INT and 0 TD performance against the Dolphins, Brady will have had one of the most impressive seasons a quarterback ever.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has 928 rushing yards and needs only 72 yards to make the 1000 yard mark. Only three Patriots running backs have had 1000+ yards and 10+ rushing TDs in one season in the past 20 years- Curtis Martin, Antowain Smith and Corey Dillon. If he gets 1000 yards, he will have had one of the most impressive seasons in the history of Patriots' running backs.
And here are some fun points from ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss:
If Tom Brady throws a touchdown pass against Miami, he will be the fifth quarterback in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass in each regular season game since the NFL started the 16 game season.
The team’s turnover differential to plus-27 on the season. The franchise record is plus-17, set in 2003.
The Patriots haven't turned the ball over in an NFL record seven straight games. "The game was also the Patriots’ seventh straight with at least 30 points scored and no turnovers allowed, extending their NFL record which previously stood at three such games. "
Patriots rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski has tied Ben Coates for the Patriots team record for touchdowns by a rookie tight end with nine touchdown passes.
Just some things to think about.
The Patriots run defense on the first Bills' drive. The Bills went wild on the Patriots on their first offensive drive, picking up 59 yards on the ground on 6 straight attempts- that's nearly 10 yards/carry. That's unacceptable and the Patriots put poor personnel on the field to prevent the run. Luckily, the Bills have a pretty terrible coaching staff who decided against exploiting the Patriots' weakness against the run.
Wes Welker. Welker had three terrible drops and is now one of the league leaders in dropped passes, if not the sole possessor. For a guy who is renowned for having strong hands, he's been dropped numerous passes all season. Maybe it's his knee, maybe it's not- Welker just needs to find his hands and needs to run through the reps with Tom Brady all of next week and the bye week.
Tom Brady's first pass of the game to Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots ran a play that left Gronk wide open in the middle of the field with no one to beat- and Brady underthrew him. Ouch. It was just one of those days where Brady wasn't able to get on target with his receivers between the 20s. Luckily for him, the running backs were more than able to pick up the slack- and in a tremendous show of how important a great coach is to his team, the Patriots were all to happy to run the ball.
Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Brandon Tate and the other Patriots' wide receivers. They were unable to get open and when they were thrown the ball, they were unable to hold on. Just a poor show. The Patriots need to figure out how to get their passing game going again if they want to beat teams in the playoffs- especially because they won't be able to run the ball as easily.
Kyle Arrington covering the deep ball. Arrington has shown that he can't turn his head when the ball is in the air and was exploited for a pair of 40+ yard passes. He was benched for Darius Butler, who has more athleticism to jump and knock down the ball on the sidelines. It's a great show for Butler, who has worked hard this season, but it also speaks a lot on how a former undrafted free agent from Hofstra (who no longer has a football program) who was #5 on the Patriots' CB depth chart during the off season is now "disappointing" because he isn't able to be a consistent #2 CB. He's still a player and a phenomenal run defender, so he'll be fine and is perfect to cover slot receivers.
Penalties. The Patriots had 6 penalties for 60 yards. They need to get that down to 0 penalties for 0 yards. They need to further limit their mistakes and you can be certain that the Patriots will be talking about this over the week.
Read "The Good" after the jump!
Pretty much everything else. The Bills couldn't stop Tom Brady in the red zone (only Welker could stop him with his untimely drops). The Patriots were 3/10 on 3rd down defense, which is respectable. They forced 7 turnovers. They ran the ball at will. They basically strong-armed their way to victory. Here are some players who deserve pats (Hah! Patriots pun!) on the back:
Darius Butler - Butler rose to the occasion as the RCB and knocked away two passes and wasn't required to make a tackle due to his solid defending. He's earned his starting spot back, in my opinion. Look for him to make his mark next week against the Dolphins.
Pat Chung - Interception, passes defended and important tackles? Chung did his job as a safety.
Landon Cohen - Fresh off the streets, Cohen provided solid pressure and saw a large role in both the Patriots 3-4 base offense and the 4-3 sub package. He should be an important role player for the rest of the season.
Alge Crumpler - The 6th man on the offensive line, Crumpler caught his first touchdown reception of the season. It's a good bow on the top of a fantastic season this man has had, and it's a great reward for a guy who's been nothing but great for this franchise.
Dane Fletcher - UDFA making a huge impact? But of course! Fletcher has made his mark on the team as the perfect linebacker for the 4-2-5 sub defense which the Patriots utilize late in games. He's able to pressure the quarterback and make plays. This guy had a pick and a fumble recovery. What a player.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis - BJGE had a great game and was hitting the holes as hard as a horse. He was getting the extra yards and showed vision and patience that Laurence Maroney never possessed. He get what was needed, and then some extra. I want him to see the end zone more.
Rob Gronkowski - Gronk is a great blocker and, in the absence of Aaron Hernandez, had another great game as the prime red zone target. (On an unrelated note, I'd like to point out that Aaron Hernandez has 45 receptions, 563 yards and 6 TDs on the season. I predicted he would have 45 receptions, 600 yards and 6 TDs on the season. Boom.)
Brandon Meriweather - After a pretty terrible performance against the Packers, he had a solid day against the Bills by staying in his role and stopping the big play. He made tackles, prevented plays and took solid angles. He needs to be this player and he'll have success.
Eric Moore - It wasn't his fault the coaches put him at 3-4 DE, even if he played poorly. When he was moved back out to 4-3 sub package DE, he shone. He's been a great pick-up and managed to recover a fumble.
Danny Woodhead - What more needs to be said about Woody? He had another great game with 125 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. He'll be a great piece of the Patriots' offense for years to come.
I hope everyone was careful in the blizzard. On to the Dolphins and the final week of the season!