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You're not crazy for fretting about the 2-0 Pats

Posted by David Sabino  September 19, 2013 04:37 PM

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Brady20.jpgThis is the sixth season that Tom Brady has led the Patriots to a 2-0 start.

Bill Parcells once famously exclaimed “You are what your record says you are” but maybe that’s not really the case. The way that a lot of folks have reacted to the Patriots first two weeks of the regular season you’d think the Belichick Bradys were 0-2 instead of being one of just eight teams that enter Week 3 with an unblemished 2-0 record. However those wins over the Bills and Jets— both strong contenders for last place in the AFC East that each started rookie quarterbacks —were awfully nerve-racking, and there might be good reason for you to have concerns going forward.

This is just the 12th time in 54 seasons that the Patriots have started the year with two consecutive wins (coincidentally only three of those seasons resulted in trips to the Super Bowl and only one resulted in a title). It also marks the first time that they, or any team since 1950 for that matter, has started off facing two rookie quarterbacks. However their combined point differential of +5 points, is lower than they had in six of the seasons they started 1-1. Only in 1999 when they began the year by beating the Jets 30-28 (a team that finished the season 8-8 under defensive coordinator Bill Belichick), and the Colts 31-28 (a 13-3 team in Peyton Manning’s second season), did they come away with two victories as narrow. And there’s virtually nobody who would contest, even after each has a win, that the 2013 Bills and Jets would be fortunate to finish the season at .500.

This year the Bears, winners by three points over the Bengals and one point over the Vikings, are the only undefeated team playing closer to the vest than New England, compiling a differential of +4 points. In fact, since 1950, the Pats and Bears are just the 16th and 17th teams to start a season 2-0 yet having outscored their opponents by a total of five points or less. Of the previous 15, just over half managed a winning record during the regular season, just a third made the postseason and just three could win a playoff game. However, before you get too far down, two of those, the 2003 Panthers and 1988 49ers made it to the Super Bowl, where the Panthers fell to the Patriots and the 49ers beat the Bengals.

So despite what Parcells once said, your concerns about your team are warranted. Here are those 15 teams and how they fared:

+5 Differential (Reg. season, playoffs)
1961 Lions (8-5-1, —)
1971 Bears (6-8, —)
1991 Bears (11-5, 0-1)
1991 Patriots (8-8, —)
2000 Jets (9-7, —)
2002 Bears (4-12, —)
2003 Panthers (11-5, 3-1 Lost Super Bowl to Patriots)
2003 Redskins (5-11, —)
2008 Panthers (12-4, 0-1)

+4 Differential (Reg. season, playoffs)
1988 49ers (10-6, 3-0 Won Super Bowl over Bengals)
2004 Jaguars (9-7, —)
2007 49ers (5-11, —)
2007 Broncos (7-9, —)

+3 Differential (Reg. season, playoffs)
2005 Redskins (10-6, 1-1)

+2 Differential (Reg. season, playoffs)
2012 Eagles (4-12, —)

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Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

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