After the smackdown they laid on the Texans last week, people pumped the Patriots quite a bit. I think part of that win was because it came at the end of a 3-game road stand for the Texans, and they looked a little sapped for intensity (one of the reasons why I picked them over the Colts in the pick 'em cuz they'd be re-energized at home this week).
But for them to be down 31-3 with 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, and then to tie the game with 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter is downright ridiculous. They didn't pull off the win, but to be able to put that many points against the No. 1 defense in the league is crazy.
No team is perfect, and the Patriots are certainly beatable thanks in part to a still mediocre defense. But they certainly have to qualify as the scariest team currently in the NFL. Similar to the 2010 Packers, where when they were on, they are virtually unbeatable.
To go against 2 of the Top 5 teams in the league and for at least a period of time in both games to be clearly operating on a level well beyond them says a lot about that team.
Belichick is a helluva coach. They consistently are playing their best football in December. If you look at Games #12-16 since 2008, the Patriots average beating their opponents in those games by 14 points.
In 23 possible games in that span, they've scored 728 points, which is 79 points better than the next best teams (both GB & SD have scored 649), which is 3.4 points per game better. The Falcons in that same span have scored 564 points (8th best), which is about a touchdown (7.1 points) less per game.
They have given up 407 points, which is the 4th least amount. The Falcons have given up 424, which is 6th best. The Steelers are #1 late season defense with 354 points allowed.
But that leaves them with a point differential of 321 points, which is 13.95 points per game. That's two touchdowns that they average beating their opponents at the end of the season. The Falcons are +140, which is 7th best in the league. After the Pats, the next best team is +194 (Packers).
The league average BTW is 499 points scored, making the Pats 10 points better than the average NFL team come late season games.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.