Monday, December 31, 2007

The Pats Are The Real Deal

That's obvious after they completed their historic 16-0 season against the Giants on Saturday night. The Pats became the first team since the league went to a 16 game schedule to finish with a perfect record. Not only that, they finished with a point differential of 315 (19.8 per game), which topped the 291 differential posted by the 15-1 Bears in 1985.

One perceived objection to the Pats' dominance is their schedule. They played in the AFC East, a division with the 4-12 Jets and 1-15 Dolphins. Even the 7-9 Buffalo Bills gave up 100 more points than the scored. So for all intents and purposes the Pats had six gimmie games against very weak competition.

But is the schedule as easy as it seems? Let's look at what the Pats did this season:

1) They beat the Colts and Cowboys, the second and fourth best team in the NFL based on record and point differential on the road.

2) They topped the other two division leaders (11-5 Chargers and 10-6 Steelers) by an average of 22.5 points.

3) They played the NFC East, far and away the best division in the NFC, and beat two other NFC playoff teams (Giants and Redskins), one of the road.

4) They beat the Browns, a 10-6 team that probably would have made the playoffs in the NFC (sorry Ezzie).

So to summarize, they beat 6 playoff teams this season (3 on the road), and also the Browns who just missed it by the tiebreaker. That's a tough schedule, AFC East or not.

Here are some other interesting tidbits.

1) The Pats gave up the fourth least points and yards in the NFL, and were tied for 1st in points before this past weekend.

2) The Pats' point differential per game (19.8) was better than the Titans' points per game (18.8).

3) The Pats won more games than the rest of their division combined. Despite the Jets, Dolphins and Bills combining for only 12 wins, the AFC East won more games than the AFC West, NFC West, and NFC South.

4) The Pats' 315 point differential was twice as large as every other team in the NFL besides the Colts.

The Colts/Pats AFC Championship game could shape up to be one of the best football games in NFL history.

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