Patriots

Eye-popping Pats stat against top-10 defenses

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

You think this is a busy week for me? You're right. But it's not so busy I can't get in an extended e-mail argument with a guy about whether or not the Patriots beat the Jets by six touchdowns (his contention) or seven (mine) back in Week 13. I said on the television - I believe it was the Mike Felger Variety Hour on Sunday night - that the Patriots beat the Jets by seven. This sent your boy Dennis racing to his keyboard.
From: Dennis
To: Curran, Tom
Subject: 7 Touchdowns? The Patriots beat the Jets 45 to 3. That is a 42-point win. Forty-two points is 6 touchdowns and 6 points after. Seven touchdowns would be 49 points. The Jets are big mouth morons and losers, but you need to improve you math skills. Dennis

From: Curran, Tom
To: Dennis
Subject: 7 Touchdowns? Dennis,

What's 7x6? 42, right? How many points for a touchdown? 6, right? What's your point?

Tom
From: Dennis
To: Curran, Tom
Subject: 7 Touchdowns?
My point is that they also kicked 6 points after touchdown. That would make if 6 touchdowns for 36 points and 6 PATs for 42 points. That is 6 X 6 = 36, then 36 6 PATs = 42.

From: Curran, Tom
To: Dennis
Subject: 7 Touchdowns?
Dennis,
How many points for a touchdown, 6 or 7? I swear it's 6. The point-after thing you're talking about? It's a different play.Or we could assume 2-point conversions and call it 48 . . .

I will keep you updated on how this progresses. Meanwhile, check out this stat unearthedby the Patriots media relations department (they do yeoman's work). The Patriots have played an opponent with a top 10 scoring defense (fewest points allowed per game) seven times in 2010 and are 6-1 in those games. The Patriots are averaging 30.1 points per game when playing a defense ranked among the top 10 stingiest in terms of allowing points. While the Patriots are averaging 30.1 points per game against those teams, the rest of the NFL is averaging 16.4 points per game. Steelers (1) 14.5 PPG. Patriots scored 39. Avg allowed in other games: 12.9 Packers (2) 15 PPG. Patriots scored 31. Avg allowed in other games: 13.9 Baltimore (3) 16.9 PPG. Patriots scored 23. Avg allowed in other games: 16.5 Chicago (4) 17.9 PPG. Patriots scored 36. Avg allowed in other games: 16.7 N.Y. Jets (6) 19 PPG. Patriots scored 14 (Game 1). Average allowed in other games: 17.5

N.Y. Jets (6) 19 PPG. Patriots scored 45 (Game 2). Avg allowed in other games: 17.5 Chargers(10) 20.1 PPG. Patriots scored 23. Average allowed in other games: 19.9 Now, back to check my inbox to debate Dennis some more.

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady is on pace for 5,224 yards passing in 2017, just a shade under his total from his career-high in 2011. He's on track to have 34 touchdowns and just five picks. Barring a continued run of ridiculous efficiency from Kansas City's Alex Smith, those numbers would be MVP-caliber in all likelihood.

But Brady's not thrilled with the way he's played of late. What gives?

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In his past two games, he hasn't thrown the football as consistently as he would have liked. After starting the season with a 10-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he's 3-to-2 in the last couple of weeks. His accuracy has been at times pinpoint (as it was on his 42-yard completion to Brandin Cooks to help set up a Rob Gronkowski score against the Jets), but it has also been uncharacteristically erratic.

He was picked deep down the middle of the field by Buster Skrine last week, but the more concerning throw may have been the quick out-route to Gronkowski that Skrine dropped for what should have been an easy interception. Brady missed Phillip Dorsett on what looked like it could have been a long touchdown with Dorsett running free behind the defense. He threw behind Chris Hogan twice in the game, one of which opened up Hogan to a rib-shot that landed him on the injury report this week.

Against the Jets, Brady was not sacked and he was hit only four times -- a light day for him compared to other weeks this season when he's been battered. Yet he still completed just under 53 percent of his passes for 257 yards and a season-low 6.76 yards per attempt.

"Well, I've got to hit the open . . . If the throws are there I've got to be able to make them," he said on Friday. "It's disappointing when I don't. To me, it just comes back to technique and fundamentals and making sure everything is working and that's the consistent daily thing that you're working on. I'm always working on my accuracy.

"I wish I hit them all. I'm capable of hitting them all and I need to be able to do that. I said last week that some of these games wouldn't be as close if I was playing better in the red area. I think some of those missed opportunities in the pass game with me hitting guys would really help our team. Hopefully, I can do a better job for this team."

Brady is no longer listed on the Patriots injury report, but he dealt with a left shoulder injury against both the Bucs and the Jets, and it's worth wondering if that somehow impacted how his passes traveled in those games. Balance is key in Brady's world, and even though he can make flat-footed throws look easy, perhaps an injury to his front side limited his ability to place the ball where he wanted.

Keeping Brady upright could go a long way in helping the 40-year-old regain his form from Weeks 2-4 when he didn't dip below a 104 quarterback rating. Bill Belichick said earlier this week that part of the reason the Jets pass-rush wasn't quite as effective as others they'd faced this year was his team's ability to run the ball. Productive rushing attempts on first and second down mean manageable third downs, which mean shorter pass attempts. Those of course, in theory, lead to less time standing in the pocket and a healthier quarterback.

"It's great," Brady said of his team's recent surge running the football. "I mean, to be able to run the ball consistently in the NFL is important for every offense. It does take a lot of . . . I wouldn't say pressure, it's just production. If 400 yards of offense is what you're looking for and you can get 150 from your running game, the 250 has got to come in the passing game. If you're getting 50 yards in the rushing game then it means you've got to throw for more.

"I don't think it's pressure it's just overall you're going to get production in different areas and the backs are a big part of our offense and handing the ball off to them is an easy way for us to gain yards if we're all coordinated and doing the right thing. But those guys are running hard. The line is doing a great job up front finishing blocks and so forth."

Against the Falcons and their talented -- though underperforming -- offense this weekend, the running game could be key. First, it could help the Patriots defense by controlling possession and keeping Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman off the field. Next are the obvious advantages for the signal-caller who could use a stress-free day in the pocket to help him solve his recent accuracy issues.