1. In 2011, the New England Patriots have not beaten a single team that finished with a winning record.
No one believes me when I give them this stat, especially Patriots fans. The most common response is usually “But we beat the Jets!” which causes me to break out in uncontrollable laughter.
Here are the Pats’ wins in 2011:
Miami Dolphins: 6-10
San Diego Chargers: 8-8
Oakland Raiders: 8-8
New York Jets: 8-8
Dallas Cowboys: 8-8
New York Jets: 8-8
Kansas City Chiefs: 7-9
Philadelphia Eagles: 8-8
Indianapolis Colts: 2-14
Washington Redskins: 5-11
Denver Broncos: 8-8
Miami Dolphins: 6-10
Buffalo Bills: 6-10
Denver Broncos: 8-8 (Divisional Round)
A lot of mediocrity, sprinkled in with some bad and a dash of terrible.
Meanwhile, the Pats played two teams win winning records: the 9-7 New York Giants and the 12-4 Pittsburgh Steelers. Ironically, they lost both games.
In a completely (un)related story, the Baltimore Ravens finished 12-4.
2. In 2011, the New England Patriots finished 31st in passing yards and total yards allowed.
To make matters worse, eight of those wins came against teams in the bottom third on the NFL in yards from scrimmage. So not only do they give up yards to teams that can move the ball, they give up yards to teams that cannot. The Baltimore Ravens are 18th in the league in yards from scrimmage, which is a) just above the league average and b) came against teams like Pittsburgh (twice), Houston (twice), San Francisco, the Jets, Jacksonville, Cincinnati and Cleveland (twice), who rank in defense No. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10, respectively.
So, we have an average offense against a flat-out bad defense (and when I say bad, I mean second-worst in the history of the sport)… and I’m picking the defense… why?
3. The Baltimore Ravens will easily (and I mean EASILY) be one of two best defenses the New England Patriots will have played this season.
The Ravens defense was third in the league in points allowed, third in total yards allowed, fourth in passing yards allowed and second in rushing yards allowed. It’s easy for New England to chew up teams like Oakland (29th in defense), Indianapolis (25th), Denver (20th) and Florida State (28th… OK, I made that one up). Let’s see what happens against a stout defense.
(Side note: I’ve been hearing a lot lately that the Ravens aren’t an elite defense. Stop it. Are they the 2000 Ravens? Nope. But are there five defenses better in this league this year? Not close.)
4. The playoff game against the Houston Texans is being vastly over exaggerated.
“Y’all barely beat a rookie QB that threw three interceptions directly into your hands.”
“the Ravens D-line got slapped around like little bitches and barely touched said rookie QB all day”
Well, Mr. Drake (IF that is your real name), I offer these as rebuttals.
FACT: “Turnovers just don’t happen. They’re FORCED.” – Tedy Bruschi (I’m sure you remember him).
FACT: The Texans are the No. 3 defense in the league, and their offensive line is arguably the best in the league. Neither of these qualities apply to your beloved Patriots.
I also offer this: Texans had no Matt Schaub and no Mario Williams and they lost. When the two teams played earlier this season, they had Matt Schaub. They lost. When they played last season, they had Matt Schaub and Mario Williams and Andre Johnson. They lost. It doesn’t matter who they have, they always lose.
In regards to this past Sunday’s game, both teams made mistakes. The Ravens took advantage, the Texans didn’t. Case closed. That’s what good teams do.
Besides, throughout this piece, I have used evidence spanning an entire season. Your sample size is… one game?
5. The devaluation of Joe Flacco’s quarterbacking ability is vastly over exaggerated.
You knew there was no way I could talk about the Ravens without mentioning their much-maligned QB that America loves to knock.
First of all, over the last 5 years, I’ve noticed there are two trains of thought that have prevailed in the NFL about players, especially quarterbacks:
1. You are either really good, or you suck. There is no middle ground.
2. Unless a quarterback throws for 4,500 yards and 30 TD’s, he sucks.
Joe Flacco is barely (and I emphasize barely) one of the ten best quarterbacks in the league right now… and a Ravens fan, I can easily admit that. Don’t believe me? Watch me:
Brady, Brees, Rodgers (The Holy Trinity)
Meanwhile, he’s clearly better than these guys who started a significant number of games in the NFL this year:
Tebow (yes I said it)
Newton (before you crown him… let’s see what happens when the games matter)
And I can make an argument that he’s just as good as or better than these guys:
Sanchez (I think it’s VERY easy, but that’s another post entirely)
Let’s take a look at that last group. Would you say that all those guys suck? Certainly not. Yet for some reason, Flacco is branded as not a good quarterback. This goes back to what I said earlier… in today’s NFL, you’re either really good, or you suck, and there’s no middle ground.
(If you still don’t believe this is true, take a look at that last group again… for every QB on that list, you’ve probably said either, “He sucks!” or “He’s really good” for all of them, when, if you take a step back, it clearly isn’t the case.)
Second, DirecTV has roughly 20 million subscribers. Let’s be generous and say that half of them have NFL Sunday Ticket, which puts us at roughly 10 million people. This means that less than 3% of the U.S. population (and we’re being generous) have watched Joe Flacco play more than five games this season (as there were five nationally televised Ravens games this year).
Yet, these people know for sure, after consulting with stout references like SportsCenter, Twitter and ESPN First Take, that Flacco stinks.
Whenever he’s discussed by the detractors, only the negative evidence is presented, and the positives are always ignored as if they don’t matter. For example, many point to the Ravens 12-7 loss to the Jaguars as why he stinks. If I were to counter that a) the Jaguars have a stout defense with a strong front four and b) the Ravens were without 2 starters on the offensive line that day, it would be regarded as excuses and tossed out. Now look at the 24-21 win against Pittsburgh, where he led the game-winning drive that started with 2:17 on the clock and no timeouts from his 8-yard line. The detractors say, “That’s because Ryan Clark wasn’t there!” or, “It’s only because Torrey Smith ran past him!”
Exactly how does that work again?
Even if you think he’s merely an average quarterback, remember, that average quarterback is going up against the second-worst defense in the history of the sport that allowed this to Chad Henne, this to Ryan Fitzpatrick and this to Dan Orlovsky.
And Joe Flacco has no shot, with a far better team?
See you Sunday.