Pats Stats: Debunking the ‘Times-Picayune Theory.’

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Aug 22, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) following a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Patriots defeated the Saints 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I have a bone to pick with a writer at the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

A very recent article by Jeff Duncan stated that the Pats’ first loss to the Chiefs “puts them on the wrong side of a historical trend.” I’m sorry you guys, I snorted out loud, my bad.

The wrong side of a historical trend for the Patriots? ….Huh?

The article goes on to say that “trying to win a Super Bowl after losing your season opener is even more improbable statistically.” I guess Mr. Article Writer never did his research when it comes to the Patriots. I did…so let me tell you about it. The Patriots have lost three previous season openers during Bill Belichick/Tom Brady’s time; ’01, ’02, ’14. For the record, those are the only season openers they have lost under Belichick/Brady leadership. They won the Super Bowl in all three postseasons. And…I’ll give you another statistic, the Patriots have never lost the game following the season opener under Belichick/Brady.

Hey, aren’t we playing the Saints next Sunday? Why yes, we are. Grab some gumbo and listen while I continue to poke holes in your improbable statistics theory, son.

On September 9th, 2001 New England played their first game of the season at Cincinnati and lost, 23-17. They went on to win the Super Bowl. Talk about improbable statistics, the Pats were 14 point underdogs against the heavily favored St. Louis Rams. Led by new head coach, Bill Belichick, Adam Vinatieri made a 48 yard field goal to win the game as the clock expired. Also, this guy…maybe you’ve heard of him…Tom Brady? Yeah, it was his first Super Bowl appearance. He also wins his first Super Bowl MVP.

On September 7th, 2003, five days after losing Lawyer Milloy to the Bills, New England was shut out in their season opener 31-0 by Buffalo. They went on to win the Super Bowl defeating Carolina. Improbable statistics? With four second left, Vinatieri wins another Super Bowl with a field goal. Brady wins his second Super Bowl MVP. I believed it would have been statistically improbable for Janet Jackson’s nip to make an appearance at the halftime show, but apparently I was incorrect.

On September 7th, 2014, New England dropped their first game to Miami 20-33 in Sun Life Stadium. They went on to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots were behind in this game too. In the fourth quarter, Brady connected with Amendola on a touchdown pass; 24-14. Edelman scores in the end zone with two minutes left; 28-24. Malcolm Butler seals the deal with a pass interception that still keeps Pete Carroll up at night. Oh, and Brady wins his third MVP title.

Wait, I’m not done, Jeff…

Wouldn’t it be statistically improbable that an NFL team would make seven Super Bowl appearances within a fifteen year period, winning five of them, under the same quarterback and head coach? You wouldn’t think so. Except the only team to do so is…wait for it…the New England Patriots.

The Cowboys’ Tom Landry and Roger Staubach dominated the 70’s with five appearances but only had two championship wins. San Fransisco 49ers’ Bill Walsh and Joe Montana had nine seasons together and only won three Superbowls. The closest contender would be Pittsburgh Steelers’ Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw winning four championships together between 1970 and 1983.

My point is be careful throwing around words like “statistics” and “improbable”. The Patriots have a knack for defying the odds and busting through statistics you didn’t even know existed. The only wrong side the Patriots are on right now is Coach Belichick’s…not history. I suppose the Times-Picayune was really speaking about their home town team; the Saints.

New Orleans has lost their season openers six times under Sean Payton and Drew Brees and have only won a single Superbowl in 2011. When the Saints do win the first game of the season they still manage 10-6, 8-8, 13-3, 11-5 and 11-5 seasons. Except there’s nary a championship to be found. Interesting. It sounds more statistically probable that the Saints won’t win another Superbowl in the future no matter what week in the season they’re on.

It’s statistically improbable that the Saints can beat the Patriots next Sunday. That is my bold statement for the week. I used statistics to support that because New England leads the all-time series 9-4. I’m not being fresh, those are just the probable odds. See, I can toss words around too.

Well, I have to go now. I can’t type the word ‘statistics’ anymore.

-Heather Hilley is a Staff Writer for cover32.com/Patriots and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @hlhilley


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