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Patriots Wide Receiver Julian Edelman is Still Getting Better

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The New England Patriots star receiver isn't happy just being one of the great ones- he wants to be the best one.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman collected 120 yards and a touchdown on four receptions against the Dallas Cowboys, his lowest number of receptions since he dinged his hip against the Bears in week 8 of the 2014 season. Outside of his monstrous 59-yard touchdown reception, it felt like a ho-hum day in the office for the team's top receiver.

We covered how Rob Gronkowski's day was pedestrian by his standards. For Edelman, he's continuing to push the envelope on what viewers should consider normal.

Edelman currently ranks third in total yards per game for receivers, behind just the Texans' DeAndre Hopkins and the Falcons' Julio Jones.

Sorry, is that a surprise? Yes, he's ahead of the Steelers' Antonio Brown. Yes, he's ahead of the Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. And the Packers' Randall Cobb and the Broncos' Emmanuel Sanders.

Through Edelman's four games, he ranks third in the league. Rob Gronkowski ranks 9th in the same metric, if you're interested.

While this might not come as a surprise to those on the Pulpit who have been touting him since the opening week, its certainly catching the rest of the league off guard. Do you remember when only four teams showed interest in Edelman prior to the 2014 season? That was just one season ago. Other than the Patriots, the three teams that missed out are the current dumpster fire Ravens, 49ers, and Browns.

I bet they wish they ponied up a little more cash.

The great thing with Edelman is that while he's at the top of the league, he's still getting better. Check out his year-over-year averages.

Edelman YPG

What you see here is an orange line that shows Edelman's average yards per game over the prior five contests, while the blue line shows a more season-oriented average of the prior fifteen games. There are three distinct humps in the recent time frame.

The first bump, around games 50-60, place Edelman in a 60-80 yards per game window. This is the middle of the 2013 season.

The second bump, around games 65-75, put Edelman in the 80-100 yards per game window. This is the 2013 playoffs and the start of the 2014 season. If he hadn't hurt his hip against the Bears, he would have stayed in that region for a longer period of time.

The third bump starts at around game 85 and it launches Edelman into the 100+ category. This is the exact start of the 2014 playoffs and Edelman's elevation has continued into the 2015 year.

It seems like Edelman is a Super Saiyan, elevating his game to the next level every time a greater opponent (playoffs!) rears their ugly head. Perhaps the 2015 playoffs will make Edelman a 140+ yard per game receiver.

Regardless, the Patriots have needed Edelman to step up his performance with the loss of Brandon LaFell to an injury, and he's done it with opposing defenses putting a bigger microscope on Julian than ever before. He's thrown his hat into the ring with the likes of Julio and Brown and he's stacking up week-in and week-out.

Maybe his production will decrease with the return of another weapon into the offense, but one thing is for certain: Edelman will keep getting better.