A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

The 2010 New England Patriots are really, REALLY good

with 3 comments

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08...

Image via Wikipedia

I know, not exactly a news flash, but I don’t think people are getting the scale of things here.  For example, this Patriots team doesn’t have near the hype behind it that the 2007 Patriots had.  It’s understandable why this is so.  After all, the 2007 Pats were the first team to go 16-0, while the 2010 Pats are merely 14-2.  The 2010 team though is playing much better going into the playoffs than the 2007 team.

Here is a table of the top teams since 1978 (when the league went to 16 games) ranked based on how much they outscored their opponents by in games 12-16 of the regular season (roughly the December games):

Points
Rk Tm Year G W L T W-L% PF PA PD
1 NWE 2010 5 5 0 0 1.000 184 47 137
2 SFO 1987 4 4 0 0 1.000 147 19 128
3 GNB 1996 5 5 0 0 1.000 162 45 117
4 BAL 2000 5 5 0 0 1.000 142 37 105
5 DET 1995 5 5 0 0 1.000 176 72 104
5 KAN 1997 5 5 0 0 1.000 147 43 104
5 SFO 1984 5 5 0 0 1.000 164 60 104
8 MIN 1998 5 5 0 0 1.000 208 112 96
8 SFO 1994 5 4 1 0 0.800 179 83 96
10 DAL 1978 5 5 0 0 1.000 142 47 95
10 MIA 1983 5 5 0 0 1.000 164 69 95
17 SDG 2007 5 5 0 0 1.000 151 61 90
69 JAX 2007 5 3 2 0 0.600 168 109 59
74 NWE 2007 5 5 0 0 1.000 147 89 58
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/3/2011.

I’ve included the top 10 teams of this 33-year era, plus the top 3 from 2007.  Those with good memories know where I’m going with this:  The 2007 Patriots started out like world beaters and then tapered off.  Granted it’s no easy feat to win even 5 games in a row in the NFL, but when the weather got cold the GOAT level play disappeared.  This year’s Patriot team is a completely different animal.  First 8 games they outscored their opponents by a scant 31 points (2007 Pats outscored opponents by 204 in the first 8), and since then they’ve completely dominated.  It only takes one bad game to knock a team out of the playoffs, so you can never be sure of what will happen, but these Pats should be considered as big of a favorite as really any modern teams has been.

What’s additionally remarkable about these Pats is that they are doing it without any big name skill players except Tom Brady.  When the Patriots had their all-world, arguably greatest offense in history season of 2007, it came with the arrival of Randy Moss.  While there was enough credit to go around, there was a contingent of observers who said that it was Moss rather than Brady who deserved MVP status (never mind the fact that Moss had clearly not been able to have anywhere near the same effect in Oakland).

This year detractors point to Michael Vick as the player truly lifting his team, but understand:  Vick has a running back who gained more yards than any on the Pats, and 2 receivers who gained more yards than any on the Pats.  And despite this New England’s offense is vastly more successful.  Football Outsiders with their advanced stat DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) rates New England’s offense at 46.1% which is the best any offense has scored in all the years they’ve analyzed (which goes back to 1993).  Philly ranks 3rd in the league at 21.3% over average.

Unreal.  Brady is clearly going to force a new Manning vs Brady debate after this year’s Super Bowl if he keeps this up.

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Written by Matt Johnson

January 4, 2011 at 12:31 am

3 Responses

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  1. Interesting stuff Matt.

    Health is as big of a reason as any though for the shift in the 2007 and 2010 teams. The 2007 team through 10 weeks was the best football team I’ve ever seen. Fairly easily. When they lost Sammy Morris, they lost their power running game. Brady injured his ankle against San Diego and the offense just wasn’t right in the SB.

    This year’s team had early losses — Kevin Faulk, Ty Warren, even Moss being traded — but has since added Branch and Logan Mankins.

    ElGee

    January 5, 2011 at 8:26 am

  2. Good observations.

    I’m still blown away though by the current team. Yes they’ve made additions, but if you had told people back in 2007 at season’s end that it was even possible to match that offensive performance without Randy Moss and without some other big name talent replacing him, I don’t think many would find you credible.

    Matt Johnson

    January 5, 2011 at 11:33 am

  3. Agree – let’s re-evaluate after the playoffs.

    ElGee

    January 5, 2011 at 12:14 pm


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