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Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Patriots becoming a second half team

By Russell S. Baxter

• Here’s a part of the New England Patriots’ revival that hasn’t been discussed. Last season, New England had few problems scoring points in the first half but was ineffective after halftime. Last season, New England scored 282 points in the first half and just 145 points in the second half and overtime. This season in 11 games, Bill Belichick's team has scored 136 points in the first half and a whopping 198 points after halftime.

• The New Orleans Saints are starting to look like the team that got to the Super Bowl last season, scoring points and forcing turnovers. Incredibly, New Orleans has scored 30-plus points in each of their last three games, a feat they accomplished just once in the first eight games of the season.

• The New York Giants did something on Sunday that Tom Coughlin’s team had not done all season … they did NOT commit a turnover.

• Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis has scored 13 touchdowns this season. The Browns offense scored just 21 touchdowns in 16 games last season. Similarly, Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe has 14 touchdowns this season, more than halfway to Kansas City’s offensive TD total (26) of 2009.

• The Houston Texans entered the weekend with the 31st ranked defense and were dead last against the pass. Isn't it amazing what playing a rookie QB will do? Houston gave up 162 total yards and pitched a shutout against the Tennessee Titans.

• It’s worth repeating that the St. Louis Rams are 5-6 this season, after finishing a combined 6-42 from 2007-09. Add in the fact that Steve Spagnuolo’s club is tied for first place, is coming off its first road win of the season, scoring a season-high 36 points and the Rams could become the second team in three years to win a division title one season after finishing 1-15.

• After totaling at least 25 carries and 100 yards in each of their first 9 games this season, the Oakland Raiders have COMBINED for 28 carries and 77 yards rushing in back-to-back losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins.

• Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning has thrown nine interceptions in his last four games (two picks in his first seven games this season). Any coincidence that Indianapolis has totaled just 74 rushing attempts in those contests (less than 19 carries a game)? On top of that, the Colts are 6-5 and will not win at least 12 games for the first time since 2002.

• The Atlanta Falcons haven't lost a game at home this season, are riding a five-game winning streak and haven't committed a turnover in four straight games. If that isn't a recipe to win a championship, I'd love to hear an argument.