Saturday, January 18, 2014

Patriots have three situational factors in focus


The New England Patriots' AFC Championship bout with the Denver Broncos will come down to situational football, something that has certainly been preached repeatedly in the Patriots' locker room this week.

Friday, Patriots receiver Julian Edelman pared the matchup down to probably the three most important factors.

". . . the three big ones are turnovers, red area, and third down," Edelman said, via, "so if you can't execute those and take care of the ball, especially in a huge game like this, you're going to lose, especially to an explosive team like Denver."

So let's take a look at each (It's numbers heavy. Sorry.):


The Patriots boasted a plus-nine turnover differential in the 2013 regular season, with 29 takeaways to 20 giveaways. In last week's Divisional round bout with the Indianapolis Colts, New England snagged four turnovers on defense and didn't give the ball away once on offense.

The Broncos, meanwhile, broke even in 2013 with 26 turnovers on both sides of the ball and were plus-two last week against the San Diego Chargers, forcing two turnovers on defense and playing a clean game offensively.

"I'm sure if we don't take care of the ball, it's not going to be like last time," Edelman said, referring to the Patriots come-from-behind victory over Denver in November. "This is a completely new game and there's a lot more to more play for, so we definitely have to take care of the ball."


Taking advantage of field-flipping opportunities will be key, but so will taking advantage of opportunities in scoring position.

Denver led the NFL in red zone offense this season, converting on 76 percent of trips inside the 20-yard line. Defensively, the Broncos ranked near the bottom of the league in the red zone, surrendering touchdowns at a near 62-percent clip.

New England went 57.75 percent in the red zone on offense while keeping opponents out of the end zone 46 percent of the time.

Last week, the Chargers went 2-for-3 in the red area against the Broncos, while the Broncos were 3-for-4. Meanwhile, the Patriots held the Colts to 0-for-2 inside the 20 while going 5-for-6 on offense.


The Patriots will be up against the Broncos' league-leading third down offense (47.71). New England 's offense was an average 39.33 percent on third down and struggled in that department defensively, allowing teams to convert on over 42 percent of third down attempts. The Broncos fared a bit better on defense at just under 38 percent.

Denver went 9-for-13 on third down last week while holding San Diego to a 4-for-12 tally. The Patriots converted on 11 of their 18 third down attempts against the Colts, while Indy went 6-for-15 on offense.


The Broncos were 9-for-18 on third down against the Patriots in November, while New England went 6-for-14. Denver was 3-for-4 in the red zone to the Patriots' 4-for-6 rate, and the Broncos' offense committed four turnovers to the Patriots' three.

*All stats courtesy of, and

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