The New England Patriots offense, for all of their injuries, have been producing at a strong clip. They rank 1st in the league in yards per game and 4th in yards per play. They have produced the most first downs per game and have the fifth most points in the entire league. While there’s definite room for improvement in the red zone (20th!), there’s no question New England has a top five offense in the NFL.
The New England defense has not been producing at a high level. They rank 31st in yards allowed per game and per play. They rank 32nd in rushing yards allowed per play and 30th in passing yards allowed per play. They rank 28th in first downs allowed per game and are tied with the Cleveland Browns for the worst red zone defense in the league. They have allowed 62 points over two games, ahead of only the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, and tied with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Jets, Saints, and Colts are a combined 0-6 on the year.
While there’s no question that the Patriots can expect their defense to improve over the course of the season- they always do, with 2011 the lone exception- the team’s currently in unique standing for having such a good offense and such a bad defense.
New England has scored 63 points and allowed 62 points, becoming the 22nd team in NFL history to score and allow 60 or more points over the first two games of the season, or what we can call the “30/30 per game club.”
The Oakland Raiders actually accomplished the feat last year, while the San Diego Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles did it in 2013, and the Buffalo Bills and Washington did it in 2012. But the history of these 21 other teams is not a real surprise.
Nine of the 21 teams on the list reached the playoffs. Four reached the divisional round. Just one reached the conference championship and that same team reached and lost the Super Bowl in 1991.
In other words, teams that make the list are pretty much a coin flip of whether they’re good or bad. They reach the postseason at the league average rate, they move on to the next round at the league average rate, and they reach the Super Bowl at the league average rate. There’s no indication that being on the list means the team will or will not reach the postseason or go on to any sort of success. It’s just an interesting list.
The four teams to reach the divisional round are the ‘91 Buffalo Bills, ‘99 Washington, ‘08 Chargers, and ‘13 Chargers. The Bills represented the conference in the Super Bowl, while the Chargers lost to the eventual conference representative.
The 30/30 club drops to 18 teams through three games, with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons the most recent member, and just seven teams through four games- with the Falcons still the most recent member. Hopefully the Patriots defense shapes up and the team won’t remain a member.
But if the defense doesn’t improve- or if the injuries start to take a toll on the offense- then the Patriots should be considered as mortal as any of the other teams that are hoping to reach the postseason and won’t have the same mythos that was applied the entire offseason.