- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. The Patriots have won 15 straight regular-season games at Gillette Stadium against NFC opponents. The lone regular-season loss against an NFC team at Gillette came in 2002 against the Packers -- with Brett Favre at quarterback.
2. Today could be the first definitive "elements" game of the season for the Patriots. Strong winds are in the forecast. That figures to first affect the kicking game, and perhaps both passing attacks.
3. Something I didn't realize until it was pointed out by a knowledgeable Patriots fan (hat tip to Fred from Framingham) is that the top eight scoring teams in the NFL all reside in the AFC. Here is the rundown: 1. New England; 2. Tennessee; 3. Indianapolis; 4. N.Y. Jets; 5. Oakland; 6. Houston; 7. San Diego; 8t. Kansas City/N.Y. Giants.
4. The Browns are coming off a big road win at New Orleans and are on the bye this weekend before hosting the Patriots. While the Patriots have to focus on the Vikings first, next week's game against a well-rested Browns club looks a lot tougher than it once did.
5. This is how fast things can change in the NFL: On Oct. 3, the Giants were playing the Bears on "Sunday Night Football" and Bob Costas was interviewing Giants coach Tom Coughlin about his 1-2 team and how things seemed to be falling apart. The ensuing discussion on TV was on Coughlin's job security. The Giants slugged through a 17-3 ugly win that night and after following up with wins over Houston, Detroit and Dallas, they could now make a strong claim as the best team in the NFC.
6. Some might say the Titans (5-2) are the best team that few are talking about. They are one of the few teams in the NFL with more rushing attempts (216) than passing attempts (173), and why not when you have Chris Johnson. The next two games will tell more about the Titans, as they are at San Diego and at Miami.
7. Running back Laurence Maroney's first four games in Denver: 36 carries, 74 yards, 2.1 average. The fresh start hasn't produced the desired results.
8. Another year, another reminder of the importance of developing quarterbacks. Eleven of the league's 32 teams have already had a second quarterback attempt more than 30 passes this season, and that number figures to grow today with a new starter in San Francisco. Some of the play from No. 2 quarterbacks has been horrid, as there just aren't enough quality quarterbacks out there. In some ways, it makes one appreciate what the Patriots did in 2008 with Matt Cassel.
9. The opening coin toss hasn't been going the Patriots way this season. In six games, they've lost the toss five times. When winning the toss, Bill Belichick's preference has been to defer to the second half, unless conditions dictate otherwise. The Patriots also lost the opening toss in overtime against the Ravens.
10. One thing that stood out from the behind-the-scenes footage shot on Patriots All-Access was Bill Belichick congratulating the team after beating the Chargers and then giving a pat on the back to safety Brandon Meriweather. It had been a tough week for Meriweather after he was fined $50,000, but he earned a game ball for his performance as he bounced back from the adversity he created for himself.