Numbers Game: Winning down the stretch

Numbers game, Tremaine Hill

Eli Manning in Four

Right before our eyes, Eli Manning is turning in one of the finest seasons of his career and maybe in Giants history.  Not only has he thrown for over 4,000 yards in 3 straight seasons, but he has the revived Giants sitting atop of the NFC East.  It was not long ago that the Giants’ season was sputtering out of control and into damage control with them losing 4 straight, but just like that,  a win has them right back in the thick of things.  A great deal of Eli’s success has to do with his fourth quarter play. Eli has come back to win in the 4th Quarter 5 times, which is tied for the most in the NFL this season.

Due to his heroic 4th Quarters this season, Manning can finally be put in the same sentence again as his brother, and it’s just not his Super Bowl win or Super Bowl MVP. Manning has does something that only 3 other players in NFL history have done, and if he continues his performance this week he can one up his brother.  Last week Eli Manning threw his 14th fourth quarter TD, tying him with Johnny Unitas (1959) and Peyton Manning (2002) for most fourth quarter TD passes in a single season.  Eli Manning is playing well and I give credit when credit its due, plus anytime you can get Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning in the same sentences you are doing something pretty well.

Patriots Road to a Championship

Bill Belichick, AP

If you’re on a Super Bowl contending team and you’re not the #1 or #2 seed, chances are you have to travel in the playoffs.  The Patriots hope more than most that they will not.  In the last 5 seasons, 3 of the 5 Super Bowl winning teams have been ranked in the Top 10 in Total Defense, and Top 10 in Total Defense on the road .  This means that those Defenses are packing their hard hats and bringing them on the road, not hoping that a high powered offense can get them out of situations.  Never thought I would say this but it looks like a high powered offense has more influence on New England’s defense than most people think.  Look at the 2009 Saints and 2006 Colts defensive rankings below.  They’re not very good for a Super Bowl winning team, but both those teams were ranked in the Top 3 in offense in those seasons.  The Saints were 1st and the Colts were 3rd.  Can a high powered offense be the substitute for a subpar defense and still get you to the promise land?  Let me know what you think.

Overall Defensive Ranking, Defensive Ranking on Road
2010 GB Packers 5th, 6th
2009 NO Saints 25th, 21st
2008 PIT Steelers 1st, 1st
2007 NY Giants 7th, 10th
2006 IND Colts 21st, 30th

This season the 10-3 Patriots have the worst ranked defense on the road, giving up an astounding 453.4 yards per game.  I went back and did a little research because I couldn’t believe it was such a large number and that’s what I do.  I went back to 1970 (AFL-NFL merger) and discovered the Patriots have allowed more yards per game on the road than any other team during that time span.  It’s a span of 42 years and 9,396 games.  But on the offensive side of the ball, the Patriots are ranked 2nd in total offense, averaging over 420 yards per game.  I was always taught defense wins Championships, but someone forgot to tell the offensive side of the ball.

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