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Thursday, September 4, 2014
Patriots-Dolphins through stats-based lens

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Looking at the New England Patriots' season-opener against the Miami Dolphins through a stats-based lens (via ESPN's Stats & Information):

1. Brady tough to beat in openers. Tom Brady is 11-1 in his career as a starter in a season opener. No quarterback has a better record among starters in the Super Bowl era.
2. Brady can move into third-place for career wins. Brady’s next win will break a tie with Hall of Famer John Elway and give him sole possession of third place among starting quarterbacks in NFL history (regular season only).
3. Double-digits wins the norm. The Patriots have won at least 10 games in 11 consecutive seasons, by far the longest active streak in the NFL. The next-highest current streak is held by the 49ers at 3.

4. Dominating the AFC East. New England has won the last five AFC East titles and has won all but two of the division titles under the current AFC East form started in 2002 (Miami won in 2008 & NY Jets won in 2002).

Record in intradivision games (since 2002)
Patriots -- 57-15
Jets -- 34-38
Dolphins -- 28-44
Bills -- 25-47

5. Season-opening streak on the line. The Patriots have won 10 consecutive season openers since losing 31-0 on the road to the Bills in 2003 (aka The Lawyer Milloy game).

6. Gronkowski's impact easily measured. In Rob Gronkowski’s first two NFL seasons (2010-11), no tight end caught more touchdown passes in the league than his 27 and only Calvin Johnson had more overall with 28. Gronkowski has been limited to just 18 games over the last two seasons because of injuries, and it's impact on Brady has been notable.

Completion percentage
With Gronkowski: 64.5
Without Gronkowski: 59.2

Yards per attempt
With Gronkowski: 7.7
Without Gronkowski: 6.8

Touchdowns
With Gronkowski: 33
Without Gronkowski: 26

Interceptions
With Gronkowski: 8
Without Gronkowski: 11

Total QBR
With Gronkowski: 78.5
Without Gronkowski: 59.7