Can the Pats Keep Scoring at This Ridiculous Pace?
You know it, I know it, the whole football watching and playing world knows it: the New England Patriots can score the ball like nobody’s business. And yet we are all powerless to stop it. This 2012 incarnation of the Patriots may be the best unit yet, better even than the 2007 juggernaut with Randy Moss. The Pats were missing their most dynamic offense player, tight end Rob Gronkowski, on Thanksgiving night against the Jets. It didn’t matter: the Patriots rolled their AFC East divisional rivals 49-19. So what if their defense is porous? It doesn’t matter if you’re scoring like that.
In that Jets game, already infamous for its weird plays (Mark Sanchez fumbling the ball after running into his offensive lineman’s behind ranks right up there with the funniest plays of the year), the Pats scored five touchdowns in the second quarter alone. “That was quick,” Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. “They were some of the quickest scores I’ve ever seen on any level. As a defense, that’s a good sign, when we’re putting good pressure on the ball. It then means something when the offense capitalizes on the mistakes we caused.” Now the question becomes this: can the Patriots continue scoring at this pace?
Could they possibly score 400 points this season? Things are starting to look historical for the Pats. Per the invaluable Elias Sports Bureau, the Patriots have scored 190 points in their past 4 games. That is the most points scored in a four-game span in a single season since the 1950 Rams scored an NFL-record 208 points from October 22-November 12 of that year. Things are getting crazy in New England, and they don’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon. The Patriots are somewhat surprisingly only ranked fourth in the NFL in passing and sixth in rushing, but it feels like so much more than that. Week after week, they aren’t just beating their opponents but running them out of the building. They have scored 30 or more points in eight out of their 11 total games, and their offense only looks to be getting better. Here is their point output from the last four weeks, in order: 45, 37, 59, 49. Those are college football numbers.
Much of their newfound offensive success can be attributed to the Pats sudden dedication to the running game. Second year running back Stevan Ridley out of LSU is having a breakout campaign, rushing for 939 yards and eight touchdowns on 206 attempts, good for an awesome five yard per carry average. “Overall, that was something we were lacking last year. The thing is, when something is working well, you stick with it. Even though we were throwing the ball all over the place [in 2011], as a team we still wanted to run the ball. We just took advantage of whatever the teams gave us,” Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch recently said.
“I think this year, more of a point of emphasis was to be a little more balanced than last year. I think our pass-run ratio was high pass, less run. I think if you want to be an effective team in November, December, January and February, you have to be more balanced. I think that’s what is helping us out. As a receiver, we always want to catch the ball, but I think to be a complete team, you have to be able to run the ball.”
Good God, the last thing the league needs is for the Patriots to become MORE efficient at scoring. Either way, the Pats have now entered the zone where no line is too high to bet on them. For instance, they are favored by nine points against Miami this weekend. Is there any way they don’t cover? Of course not. Keep taking the Pats and ride this crazy train.