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This week at the Washington Post, an old topic is relevant again: why pressuring Tom Brady is the key to success against New England.

Completion percentage is often overrated, and it isn’t a critically important stat generally, but the Patriots are a unique offense. As a general rule, completion percentage is highly correlated with winning, but a large reason for that is leading teams tend to throw conservative passes and trailing teams tend to throw aggressive ones. Thus the stat is a result of success even more than a cause of it. (In other words, completion percentage is a lot like rushing attempts, where the best teams tend to fare well in this metric, but in a misleading way.) This season, teams won 58.4 percent of games when completing at least 60 percent of passes, and just 33.3 percent of games when completing fewer than that. But the Patriots were more extreme, winning 11 of 12 when completing at least 60 percent of passes, with the one loss coming in overtime against the Jets. On the other hand, New England lost three of the four games this season when Brady completed fewer than 60 percent of passes, and the one victory came when New England held Buffalo to just 13 points.

The reason completion percentage matters for New England is because the Patriots don’t really have a running game, at least not in any traditional sense. Against Kansas City on Saturday, the Patriots threw on 24 of the team’s first 26 plays. All game, Patriots running backs had just seven carries, with Steven Jackson — signed in December — taking six of those carries and gaining just 16 yards. In the regular season game against Denver, the Patriots began the game by calling 18 passes to just two runs on the team’s first six drives.

You can read the full article here.

  • Johhny Ohrl

    My biggest fear is it will come down to turnover differential (or some fluke ST returns). If Brady doesn´t bring his A game, but somehow escapes turnovers, NE will still win. If offense trumps defense, NE will blow DEN away…
    So even if Brady is going only like 22/40 but 0 Ints, that shall be enough, because I can´t imagine in my darkest nightmares that gloved PM will be able to put on a aerial show.

  • Trepur

    “although fans are well aware that two of the three losses came in Denver”
    1 of 3:
    2006 vs Indy
    2012 vs Baltimore
    2013 vs Denver

    Manning was QB to two though.

    • TN

      The Patriots lost in the playoffs in Denver in 2006, but that was in the divisional round.

      • Trepur

        The line before that in the article talked about their 6-3 record in the AFC championship, then claiming two of those three came to Denver, which isn’t true. And the Denver loss was for the 2005 season, not the 2006 season.

        • TN

          Yes. I wasn’t disagreeing with you, just trying to explain why I thought Chase had made that error.

          • Ah, yes. That is what I had in mind.