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FiveThirtyEight: The Experience Required to Beat the Patriots

The Patriots hadn't played the Titans, Jaguars, and Eagles since 2015, but that's their playoff run this year. The teams to beat the Patriots in the playoffs have always had a history of playing well against New England. Think of Mike Shanahan's Denver teams, any team with Peyton Manning, the Giants, John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco-era Ravens, and even Rex Ryan's Jets went 3-2 against the Patriots in 2009-2010. Add it all together, and you have this most interesting split: the Patriots are 15-0 in the playoffs against new opponents and 12-9 in rematches.

As daunting as that sounds for the Eagles, the DVOA splits and distribution of close wins shows that the Patriots aren't invincible in these matchups, but it will take quite the effort from a Philadelphia team that is simply not used to this stage or opponent.


3 comments, Last at 29 Jan 2018, 11:54am

1 The Experience Required to Beat the Patriots

by Anon Ymous // Jan 26, 2018 - 4:28pm

While I think it is an interesting split, I'm not sure how much predictive value it has. For instance, in that 15-0, there are three double digit 4th quarter comebacks and another game where they overcame two 14 point deficits... and that's just in the last four years. Maybe newness was a benefit, but it's not like those games weren't a play or two from going the other way.

On the flip side, was it prior experience that caused Welker to drop what would have been a game sealing pass in SB 46? Was it the lack of prior experience that helped Edelman make the catch last year? If so, then why did Drew Bennett drop the pass at the end of the 2003 Divisional?

All this stat really tells us is that if you already beat or played NE close earlier in the season, you have a good shot of doing it again... which isn't exactly a revelation. :)

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3 Re: The Experience Required to Beat the Patriots

by FireSnake // Jan 29, 2018 - 11:54am


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2 Re: The Experience Required to Beat the Patriots

by nat // Jan 28, 2018 - 10:49am

Could it be mostly that teams that have to play the Patriots in the regular season and still manage to get to the playoffs tend to be pretty good teams? After all, they either beat NE in the first meeting or overcame an extra loss by winning a lot of other games. And NE's schedule usually features two extra division champs from the previous season, another predictor of strong teams.

I wonder what the playoff record for such teams is (excluding games against the Patriots, of course). Were they much better than .500? That would be consistent with playing the Patriots tougher than other teams do in the playoffs.

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