You really don’t need to watch the final six games of the season. It doesn’t matter what happens. The storylines will be the same. They are set in concrete, and nothing can change them.

It started yesterday, following the 34-3 win over the Chiefs.  It doesn’t mean anything! They beat an injury-riddled team with the worst quarterback in the league! Patriots have the worst defense in the league! When they face a real quarterback in the playoffs like Ben Roethlisberger, he’s going to carve them up and the season will be over!

Rinse, and repeat. All day, both stations.

You will get a version of that every week from here on out, as the Patriots schedule is (according to the media) nothing but cupcakes the rest of the way. Any win or good performance by the defense is completely meaningless. A loss, god forbid, will be the end of the world as we know it. (And they could well lose to the Eagles this weekend.)

Looking forward to the last six weeks of the season? Me too.

When looking at the Patriots defense, the only stat that matters to the media is yards allowed. In that category, the Patriots are last, giving up 404 yards per game. When it comes to points allowed, however, the Patriots are 10th in the NFL, giving up an average of 20.3 points per game, ahead of perceived stalwart defenses like the Jets, Lions, Giants, Bears and Cowboys. The Indianapolis Colts give up 30 points a game. If you look objectively (impossible for sports radio hosts to do) how can you possibly say that the Colts have a better defense than the Patriots? You can’t.

Bill Belichick on The Big Show yesterday talked about this. He acknowledged that everything (yards, points, red zone, etc) is important, but the most important defensive stat is points allowed.

I ask you to please keep that in mind the next time you hear Mike Mutnansky or Tony Massarotti screaming at you about “BIG PICTURE” and the Patriots having the worst defense in the NFL. I’m going to believe what Bill Belichick says over those jokers.

It’s report card day, so here are your weekly grades on the team’s performance:

Making The Grades – Chiefs at Patriots – Jeremy Gottlieb reminds us that Bill Belichick may not be so great at shopping for the groceries, but he sure can cook a great meal.

Patriots Report Card: Where running up the score is a must – Kirk Minihane can’t find “classy decisions” anywhere on the NFL tiebreaker charts.

Patriots Report Card – Ron Borges says that this was like Oklahoma scheduling Ball State.

Patriots Report Card: Rob Gronkowski Proves Yet Again He Is Top Tight End In NFL – Jeff Howe says it’s not the Patriots fault they were playing a lousy quarterback. They got the job done.

ESPNBoston – says that this won’t be remembered as Tom Brady’s finest game.

Patriots report card – Add your vote to the report card.

40 lines on 20 issues – Tom E Curran weighs in on a number of Patriots items.

Rob Gronkowski Keeps on ‘Drilling for Oil’ and 19 Other Patriots Thoughts – Jeff Howe has 20 thoughts.

QB whisperer analyzes what ails Tom Brady – Karen Guregian has Tom Martinez suggesting that the Patriots QB is hurting.

New MLB contract limits big payday for top draft picks – Brian MacPherson looks at how the new MLB CBA could actually keep some talented players out of the game, citing a Red Sox prospect who chose baseball over football because of a signing bonus as an example. Gordon Edes notes though, that some of these compensation rules may benefit the Red Sox.

Where is the Red Sox’ next closer? – Rob Bradford looks at replacements for Jonathan Papelbon.

Don’t expect a slugfest between B’s, Sabres – Despite what you may have heard on the radio this morning, Joe Haggerty says not to expect fireworks tonight between the Bruins and Sabres.

Bruins say they’ll just be themselves – James Murphy says that the Bruins will be prepared if something does happen.

Jeff Green plans to remain with Green – Steve Bulpett has the restricted free again looking forward to returning to the Celtics whenever the lockout ends.

24 thoughts on “After 31 Point Win, All Is Lost For Patriots

  1. Right on Bruce. One thing is clear: between both stations in this market, fans deserve better, more insightful and objective analysis. When turning on WFAN brings more objectivity, you know things have reached a new low in this market.


  2. The Pats defense gives up 7.5 yards per pass attempt (26th in the league). The 10-0 Packers give up 7.4 yards per pass attempt (25th in the league). The Patriots require the other team to go 19.9 yards per point. Only San Francisco is better at this (opponents need to go 22.3 yards to score a point). It's fine to cherry pick stats to say the Patriots "are the worst defense" but it also requires a look at the "big picture".


  3. They are so far incapable of seeing beyond the immediate negative storyline it's laughable. It is almost as if they have never been around BB before and have no idea what his priorities are. In one of the Belichick books (I think Halberstam's) how his NY Giant D was apoplectic when the SB gameplan was for the D to allow Thurman Thomas to run all over them? BB figured if TT ran for 100 or more, the Giants would win. He was right.
    Believe me, I would rather not be surrendering 400 yards per game, but when that doesn't translate into points by an opponent, and often enough does result in takeaways (Pats also in top 10 in turnover differential), I think there needs to be some objective analysis.
    It's pathetic we don't get it from the "big names."


  4. Bruce:

    Its lazy journalism. It is easy to scream and shout how bad the pats defense is because of the yards they give up. In 2001 the naysayers were all over the offense because it could not score without going down field…dink and dunk will never work. In 2004 how could they win with Troy Brown playing nickel back. Those driving the conversation (with the exception of Dale Arnold who does not have a platform any more) use simplistic arguments rather exploring the "why". If someone was really good in this town they would spend 4 hours on how bend don't break really works. they would look at points against rather than the flashier yards. They would understand the symbiotic relationship between offensive time of possession and defensive effectiveness (yes sometimes the Pats score too quickly…it is the reason they are picking and choosing thier spots for the hurry up). This years Pats are doing a lot of interesting things. Yet to hear the talkers and even scribes tell it…this team is doomed I tell ya'…just doomed!


  5. Yards allowed and, for that matter, yards gained, are the most useless stats in football. They're "volume" stats–stats that can be accumulated simply by running a lot of plays (like the QB who throws for 300+ yards in a 20-point loss because all he does is throw the ball in the second half of the game). Cold, Hard, Football Facts has a stat called "Bendability." It measures how efficiently a defense is playing by dividing the number of yards it allows by the number of points allowed. The Patriots, after 10 games, are ranked #2 on the index: San Francisco is #1. Basically, the Patriots' defense has been very efficient this season. Certainly, it hasn't been dominating, but efficient play is one of the most overlooked aspects of winning football games. And so it's very wise to ignore the "yards allowed" noise and to focus on defensive efficiency instead.


  6. Great stats about Points Allowed and the comparable defenses. Not to be devil's advocate though, the past 2 years, the Defense has made not 1 play of consequence in the playoffs. Last year especially was brutal, as they didn't force a single sack or turnover. Maybe they get nervous in the playoffs (a sign of a young defense)?

    This year is different, of course. I would like to see the vets (Mayo, Wilfork, Chung) step up and put their mark on this team when it matters.


    1. Honestly, I would throw out the 2009 playoffs. That team was just 10-6 and had been up and down all season. And after they lost Welker with the blown-out knee the week before, their playoff hopes had pretty much been dashed anyway. Last year against the Jets the defense didn't play well, but I think people unfairly ignore the fact that injuries had limited them to dressing just 4 healthy defensive linemen for that game. By the 4th quarter, when the Jets scored two of their four TDs in the game, the defense was gassed due to the lack of depth up front caused by the injuries.


  7. Right on, George. The only time you should be complaining about a 34-3 win is when the other team physically failed to show up for the game, yet you somehow managed to give up 3 points to them.


  8. The only valid criticisms/critiques of the Pats that I can see right now:

    (1) They've played a team in Pittsburgh whom they'd be likely to face at some point in the postseason, and looked absolutely incapable of beating them. That's a legitimate concern.

    (2) We know it's challenging to beat the same team three times in a single year, so I think it's reasonable to be nervous about a possible third matchup with the Jets in the postseason.

    Beyond that, everything else is grasping at straws. The Giants game could have gone either way — it's bad that they couldn't make a stop on that last drive, but LOTS of teams can't make stops on last-minute high-pressure drives. Like, oh, say, the 2000 Rams. They kept the Cowboys suppressed enough to beat them, a feat that's becoming more impressive in hindsight. They handled the Raiders and Chargers fairly well — again, in hindsight, more impressive now than at the time. The defense is holding a lot of long drives to FG attempts only. The offense is still highly efficient and balanced.

    Just tune out the negativity — it's meant for consumption by the meatheads in Listenerland.


    1. Dave…

      First off Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Regarding your points:

      1) I am pretty convinced NE will beat Pitt next time they play. I think when they played last time the Pats defense was still trying to find a way to include Haynesworth and Ellis leaving Carter and Anderson out of the rotation more than they are now. At the same time the offense was not quite what it is now. They were still trying to force Chad 85 into the mix (that was the first game they didn't), they had Kevin Faulk as the focal point of the offense for some god knows why reason and Brady had a bad game. I can't believe Ben Rothlesburger can beat a BB team twice.

      2) The Jets are not making the playoffs…at least not with Sanchez under center.

      The only thing I worry about is the Pats reeling off 6 in a row against bad teams and forgetting that they need to play 60 minutes of defense to wn in the playoffs…the opponent will not matter if that happens.


  9. Am I EXPECTING the Pats to win the Super Bowl this year?….NO, but stranger things have happened. We are talking FOOTBALL, it's not a seven game series. All you have to do is look to the 1985 Pats who rode in to that Super bowl on a wave of TURNOVERS or the 2001 Pats, another team not much was expected of going into the playoffs…..and I just love how some mediots act they are giving us "breaking news"…I mean, the ODDS are with them. I could make these statements RIGHT NOW- "The Bruins won't win the cup this year!….The Red Sox won't win the WS in 2012!" and my chances are pretty good at being right….If you had to bet everything you had would you take THE FIELD or a particular team?….Yet they seem to get GREAT JOY in telling us the Pats season will end with an "inevitable loss" as if they have great knowledge or something… NO SHEET every teams season will end with an "inevitable loss" except for the Super Bowl winner…….what a bunch of ass clowns


  10. "Otherwise, why watch if you KNOW they aren't going anywhere. Why follow sports?"

    EXACTLY, this is my biggest complaint with this track their on. They seem to be saying,.. "The Pats aren't going to win the Super Bowl so even if they keep winning it doesn't matter"…SAY WHAT?….once again, THE ODDS are with them. I don't care what team you follow, unless they are some INCREDIBLE JUGGERNAUGHT (60's Celtics) the ODDS are always that YOUR teams season will end short of a championship…This shows the DISCONNECT between some scribes and fans. They don't understand that the JOURNEY is alot of the fun…..wait a minute, they do understand that but now they are trying to make the journey miserable too


  11. Is it so hard to envision this team getting on a roll and getting hot at the right time? If you just dropped in, turned on Felger and Mazz and didn't know what year it was, you'd swear we were going through a Hugh Millen era again.

    At least the best part about Mazz is he's going to say the same thing every week about the Patriots until the post-season…therefore there's no reason to listen to anything he says for the next 6 weeks either.


    1. You are right on target Doc–why listen to squeaky who constantly says the rest of the games after the Eagles are against tomato cans? He has three words that are in his vocab on a daily basis—crap,suck and blows. He is to Felger as Sheppard was to Ordway—someone to make ridiculous statements, be made fun of then kicked to the curb, as was mentioned previously. Does he earn the same as Felger? I doubt it.


      1. The difference was that Sheppard and Ordway would actually argue because they'd actually take different sides on the same issue. With Mazz and Felger, they don't argue at all. Just Mazz playing the YARM ("You're absolutely right, Mike.") card. Sure, Big O and Pete's opinions were probably scripted well ahead of time, but at least they were generally entertaining while doing so.

        And Pete definitely played the court jester (remember when he was a Yankee's fan?), but better that then Mazz the Yes-Man. Pete made me laugh or want to punch my radio, but Mazz makes me want to check to see if oily slime is oozing from the speakers.


  12. I enjoy everyone's comments to this post and agree. One additional point I want to make is most of the local media (and national for that matter) don't spend too much time pointing out flaws of Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I agree Pittsburgh is the team to beat right now, but Baltimore? I don't think it gets enough pub that they have lost to Tennessee, Jacksonville AND Seattle. Baltimore will always be feared, but look at those teams compared to the teams the Patriots have lost to at this point in time. Enough said.


    1. You mean like Pittsburgh being tied for dead last in turnover differential and being the worst defense at taking the ball away? Somehow that is never said. But as Bill Barnwell and other writers will say, getting turnover is "lucky" and "equals out over time" when the Patriots are getting them at key times in games they give up a lot of yards in/


  13. Generally speaking, media people understand that they are seen as nearly sub-human by everyone else. They get angry at that correct characterization, so they vent in a retaliatory way by saying or writing things they know are contrary to sane, rational thought.


  14. I do think the yards-against stat matters a bit more than is acknowledged here. When you give up big yardage you, by extension, keep your own offense off the field. When this happens (Giants game) Brady & crew get less opportunities and usually tend to play less effectively.

    No team has ever won a SB with a defensive passer rating against number as high as the Patriots have right now. Looking at simply points-allowed isn't comprehensive enough, IMO


    1. It means that Borges doesn't understand college football at all. Ball State agrees to play Oklahoma–and to take their embarrassing beating in the game–because at the end of the day OU gives them a really big check. The NFL tells teams who they're playing, and when. So no, it's nothing like OU scheduling Ball State. But then again, this is Borges, and anything the Pats do, as long as the "evil" Belichick is in charge, is worthy of his scorn and mockery.


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