Forging the perfect season...
The Patriots are 16-0 this morning. If the Redskins and the Browns make the playoffs, they will have accomplished this feat during a season in which they played seven playoff contenders, including four division winners - Indianapolis, San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Dallas.
Overall, the winning percentage of the team's opponents is .465. With eight games left among those 12 other opponents, assuming wins by the Jets, Chargers, Browns, and Colts, the best the final winning percentage can be is .474. While .474 isn't going to make anyone say "wow," here's something from ESPN to put what the Patriots did this season into perspective -
The biggest negative on the '72 Dolphins' résumé is the strength, or lack thereof, of their schedule. While it's true that they could only play who was scheduled, it's also true that with an opponents' winning percentage of .396, the Dolphins' schedule was one of the easiest since 1950.
Basically, 99 percent of the teams since 1950 had a more difficult season schedule than the 1972 Dolphins. That is a very easy schedule.
Four of the Patriots victories were by four points, or fewer. Only two of those tight victories were against playoff contenders. The team's average margin of victory over the rest of the playoff field is 25.6 points per game.
Additionally, the Patriots defeated the entire NFC East, and AFC North through the course of their season - two of the most physical divisions in the NFL.
Based on what happened during the regular season, one has to assume that the two AFC teams with the best chance of advancing through Foxborough - the Colts and the Jags.
Costly loss -
In a game they didn't need, the Giants lost their starting center, Shaun O'Hara to a knee injury, starting corner Sam Madison to a groin injury, and starting linebacker Kawika Mitchell. Both Mitchell and O'Hara are reported to have each sprained a knee.
All players at key positions on the field.
This is not good for a Giants team heading into a playoff game with a physical Tampa team.
The 300, Patriots Redux...
Tom Brady became the sole number of the 50 touchdown club when he hooked up with Randy Moss on a 65-yard bomb. That means that 300 of the Patriots 589 total points came off the arm of Tom Brady.
Brady's arm has accounted for just under 75 percent of the scoring by the Patriots O. The offense accounted for a total of 402 of the points, special teams another 151 points (one two point conversion), and the defense scored 36 with touchdowns by Randall Gay, Adallius Thomas, Asante Samuel, Eugene Wilson, and Rosevelt Colvin.
Just a few final facts to leave you with:
The Patriots started and ended the season in Giants Stadium. The y won both games, scoring exactly 38 points in both contests. In both games Moss caught a touchdown pass of at least 50 yards, and Brady completed at least 76 percent of his passes.
The Patriots top three receivers, Moss, Wes Welker, and Donte Stallworth, each averaged better than 10 yards per reception in the two games in the Meadowlands - 20 receptions for 254 yards against the Giants, and 16 receptions for 263 yards against the Jets.
Randy Moss is the common denominator between the record setting Vikings offense that got Brian Billick his head coaching position in Baltimore, and the current Patriots offense.